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Transport minister resigns over failed HSR restructuring plan (update)

2015/01/07 19:43:52

Taipei, Jan. 7 (CNA) Transport minister Yeh Kuang-shih tendered his resignation Wednesday after the ministry's proposal for financial restructuring at the Taiwan High Speed Rail operator failed to clear the Legislature.

Yeh took up the post at head of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in February 2013.

Tony Fan, who has been chairman of Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp. since last May, also resigned.

An Executive Yuan spokesman said Premier Mao Chi-kuo would try his best to keep Yeh in his post.

In announcing his resignation, Yeh lamented being unable to serve the public welfare and expressed concerns that the Legislature's disapproval of the financial turnaround plan for the troubled rail operator would leave it bankrupt.

That would leave the government forced to take over the company, which Yeh said is an option full of risks.

In a separate statement, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said it would not involve itself any further in discussions of financial restructuring at the private company and will instead begin preparations to take over.

The key point of the ministry's rejected proposal was granting a 40-year extension to the company's right to operate Taiwan's only bullet train, which it built under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) model, affording the financially troubled company more time to acquire capital and tide over its current difficulties.

Ruling and opposition lawmakers were not impressed by the plan, expressing concerns that it was too expensive and would only benefit "certain individuals."

(By Wang Shu-fen and Lee Hsin-Yin)
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