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KMT lawmakers want new high-speed rail plan

KMT lawmakers want new high-speed rail plan

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Kuomintang lawmakers asked the government Friday to submit a new plan to rescue the Taiwan High Speed Rail Co. after their rejection led to the resignation of Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih.
The ailing company could face bankruptcy and a government takeover within a few months if no rescue package is accepted. Government leaders meanwhile were still reportedly trying to persuade Yeh to stay on.
KMT legislative caucus leader Alex Fai said Friday the government could adapt the contents of the original rescue plan, change its name and resubmit it to the Legislature for review. He did acknowledge that such a tactic would make it impossible for the package to pass during the current legislative session, but it should become the first point on the agenda for the next session.
The future of THSRC was a pressing issue because a relevant court verdict was scheduled for March, while in May the banks would have to report their business income tax, Fai said.
Yeh was scheduled to chair a regular meeting at the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Friday afternoon which could be his last, reports said.
The minister tendered his resignation in a surprise move Wednesday evening after the KMT caucus at the Legislature’s Transportation Committee rejected the THSRC rescue plan by 18 votes to 0. Premier Mao Chi-kuo was reportedly trying to persuade him to stay on, but by Friday afternoon it was still not clear if he would be replaced or not.
Fai said Yeh was still insisting on leaving office while government leaders still wanted him to stay on. THSRC Chairman Tony Fan also handed in his resignation shortly after Yeh announced his.
Opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Tsai Chi-chang accused the government of having drawn up the financial reform plan in a less than transparent way. The high-speed rail system, which was launched during the DPP administration of President Chen Shui-bian, was too important to just shunt it aside and let it die, Tsai said.
Both KMT and DPP lawmakers were critical of Yeh’s proposal because they said it favored a handful of powerful business groups at the expense of the public. The minister said the opposite was true because starting from next year, members of the public would be able to buy shares in the company.
The original plan granted a 40-year extension to THSRC’s concessional right to run the rail system so it could have more time to raise capital. With stock for sale to the public beginning in 2016, the company could continue for at least another five decades under the original build-operate-transfer model, the minister argued.


Updated : 2021-09-19 13:18 GMT+08:00