Taipei, April 20 (CNA) A government program that offers subsidies to people who buy certain types of energy efficient home appliances will be maintained for the next few months, mainly for the purchase of air-conditioners, Economics Minister Shih Yen-shiang said Friday.
The subsidies are aimed at cutting energy consumption and encouraging people to replace old appliances with more efficient ones, Shih said on the sidelines of an energy seminar in Taipei.
The subsidy initiative, introduced in January, was extended against background of a government decision last week to increase electricity rates.
For the country's 7.87 million households, rates will rise by an average 16.9 percent with effect from May 15.
The home appliance subsidy program started this year by offering a NT$2,000 (US$67.79) rebate per unit to people who bought energy efficient air conditioners, refrigerators or washing machines in the period Jan. 1 to March 31.
To date, applications for rebates on more than 310,000 units have been received and the number is expected to reach 320,000 units before the April 30 application deadline, according to the ministry.
In the second phase of the program, the terms and budget will be similar but the focus will be on air-conditioners as summer approaches, the minister said.
However, he did not exclude the possibility of subsidizing other home electronics such as television sets.
In an effort to avoid a freeze in home appliance sales at the moment, he declined to say when the new round of rebates will begin.
The second phase of subsidies will cost the government an estimated NT$620 million.
(By James Lee)