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Industry leader supports government on migrant labor, electricity price

02/27/2024 10:07 PM
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Indian workers are seen in a factory operated by a Taiwanese tech firm in Gurugram, India in this photo taken in December 2021. CNA file photo
Indian workers are seen in a factory operated by a Taiwanese tech firm in Gurugram, India in this photo taken in December 2021. CNA file photo

Taipei, Feb. 27 (CNA) The head of Taiwan's industry and commerce association said on Tuesday the group supports the government's decision to introduce labor from India and understands the need to raise electricity prices.

Thomas Wu (吳東亮), chairman of Taiwan's Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce, told reporters on the sidelines of a Lunar New Year event hosted by the association and attended by seven other major industry and commerce groups, that the groups are optimistic about the government's decision to introduce more overseas workers from India.

"Taiwan is facing a serious shortage of laborers," he said, adding that the overseas workers will not "replace domestic workers but supplementing the vacancies left by them."

However, questions about how many and in what sectors will require careful consideration as well as rolling reviews by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Labor, Wu noted.

Thomas Wu, chairman of Taiwan's Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce. CNA photo Feb. 27, 2024
Thomas Wu, chairman of Taiwan's Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce. CNA photo Feb. 27, 2024

The association chairman also voiced the group's "understanding" about a possible hike in electricity rates.

"Due to the global situation and rising cost of raw materials, we understand that the increase in the electricity price is a necessary response," Wu said. "However, we also advise the government to draft supporting measures to mitigate the impact."

He did not specify what "supporting measures" the group would like the government to enact.

Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) said earlier Tuesday that the adjustment made to the electricity price, if undertaken, will absolutely take Taiwan's competitiveness into account.

Wang was responding to a media query about a Bloomberg report published last week that said if Taiwan's industrial electricity price is raised to the level of South Korea, the country could lose its edge.

According to a Taipower press released on Monday, the industrial electricity price in South Korea was raised 84 percent in three years to about NT$4.46 per kilowatt-hour in 2023, while Taiwan's current industrial electricity price stands at NT$3.38 per kWh.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs is set to convene the Electricity Price Review Committee in March to discuss possible adjustments to the electricity rate.

The price, according to the Electricity Act, is reviewed twice a year by the committee and the adjusted price introduced in April and October.

Taiwan Power Co. reported losses of NT$226.5 billion in 2022, followed by further losses of NT$198.5 billion in 2023, resulting in a total accumulated loss of approximately NT$382.5 billion over the two years, after deducting a government subsidy of NT$50 billion granted in 2023, according to a report made by Deputy Economics Minister Tseng Wen-sheng (曾文生) in mid-January.

The company has repeatedly emphasized that the losses have been largely incurred as a result of the hike in international fuel prices starting in 2022 due to the Russia-Ukraine war and extreme weather conditions.

(By Alison Hsiao)

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