Taiwan Post assessing budget freeze

The China Post staff

Acting chairman Ho Nuan-hsien of the government-owned Taiwan Post Co. said yesterday that the impact on the operation of the company will need to be assessed after its budget for 2007 was frozen by the Legislative Yuan.

Ho made the remarks after a legislative joint committee of budget and transportations voted 15-9 to freeze the budget of the Taiwan Post during a preliminary screening session.

Venting their anger over the government’s ignoring existing regulations to change the name of Chunghwa Post Co. to Taiwan Post Co., legislators from the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT), boycotted the screening of the budget through filibusters. The lawmakers claimed that they were reviewing the budget of the Chunghwa Post instead of that of Taiwan Post. They wanted Taiwan Post executives to leave the conference room. The administration of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party has recently stepped up the name-change drive that aims to remove references of “China” or “Chinese” from the titles of all state-owned companies. But opposition parties criticized the move as unnecessary because it will only waste taxpayers’ money.

The joint legislative committees also passed a motion proposed by KMT Legislator Chen Chieh demanding that the freeze can only be lifted after proposed revised post bills, which serve as the legal base for the company’s business operations, pass legislative screening.

Acting chairman Ho was assigned to head Taiwan Post after his predecessor was sacked after the government alleged that he did not exert full efforts to implement the name-change project while labor union members staged protest against the plan. Ho noted that the company has around 25,000 staff and he will strive to keep the company operating normally in the face of the frozen budget.

He pledged to continue communicating on the issue with the Legislative Yuan.

Ho also said he will send revised post bills concerning the operations of the company — which have become necessary since the recent name change of the company — to the Legislature for screening.

Taiwan Post recorded revenues of NT$337.33 billion and spending of NT$325.78 billion last year with an after-tax profit of NT$11.55 billion.

Other senior executives said the standoff caused by the corporate name change will not be solved by the company itself. There is a need for high-ranking government officials to step in and help find a solution, they added. A senior official revealed that he is optimistic about the eventual approval of Taiwan Post’s budget programs because opposition lawmakers are unlikely to offend the large number of the company’s employees and customers as the new election of legislators set for December draws closer.