Taiwan Hikes Electricity Prices amid Growing Anger

Government plans 37% increase to offset soaring energy costs.

Taiwan said April 12 it will raise electricity prices by up to 37% next month to reflect soaring energy costs, sparking anger and warnings about the impact on industry.

An increase of between 29.5% and 37.3% will be imposed on the industrial sector from May 15, according to the finance ministry.

At the same time, a hike of between 16% and 33% will be levied on the commercial sector, and there will be a rise of up to 24% for millions of households.

The price hike is mainly aimed at offsetting huge losses caused to Taiwan's state power supplier Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) by surging coal, gas and fuel prices.

Taipower has incurred $4.48 billion in losses since 2008, the ministry said.

Economic affairs minister Shih Yen-hsiang said that "after the price hike, Taiwan's electricity prices will remain relatively low compared with those of many Asian countries".

But industry leaders warned that the rise, which comes after a 10% fuel price jump, would cause additional costs to local industry and undermine their competitiveness on the international market.

Taiwan's major opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has said it will hold a mass protest against the hikes next month, with tens of thousands expected to attend.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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