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Former officials impeached for irregularities in power purchases

2012/06/12 20:34:25

Taipei, June 12 (CNA) The Control Yuan impeached three former officials and a senior official of the state-run Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) and the Energy Bureau Tuesday for negligence and impropriety amid the controversial power rate hikes that took effect June 10.

The Control Yuan is responsible for monitoring the ethics and behavior of public agencies and officials and for censuring any illicit acts.

Former Taipower Chairman Edward Chen and incumbent President Lee Han-shen were found negligent of duty and having acted improperly in the process of purchasing electricity from nine private power plants, said Control Yuan member Liu Yu-shan, one of the four members that proposed the impeachment.

Taipower signed long-term purchase contracts with the private plants but the company, when the impeached officials were in charge, did not re-negotiate the deals when domestic interest rates were lowered, as agreed in the contracts, according to Liu.

The officials thus increased the purchasing costs of the company, said Liu. Moreover, they did not put a priority on the company's interests and caused it to pay an extra NT$5.9 billion (US$197 million) in purchasing costs, stated another Yuan member, Yeh Yao-peng.

Yeh Hui-ching, former director-general of the Energy Bureau under the Economics Ministry, was impeached for permitting a private power company to build a new plant at a time when domestic demand for electricity was fully met, Liu added. The decision only added to the government's costs, according to Liu.

Many other decisions by the four officials "did not make sense" and thus the Control Yuan also passed an additional resolution to refer the case to the judiciary authorities for further investigation to see if criminal acts were involved, Liu noted.

The company declined to comment, a Taipower spokesman said.

The company's operations have come under close public scrutiny since the government announced in early April that electricity rates would be raised substantially in May to help the company offset its mounting losses. The implementation of the hikes was later postponed in view of public complaints.

Some critics have contended that some of the company's losses are due to poor management and bloated pay scales and that consumers and the private sector should not have to pay for Taipower's waste and inefficiency.

(By Sofia Yeh, Lin Meng-ju and Kendra Lin)
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