THSRC restructuring fails, MOTC chief quits

By Enru Lin ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Transportation chief Yeh Kuang-shih (���J��) tendered his resignation yesterday after lawmakers voted down his ministry’s financial restructuring plan for the distressed Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp. (THSRC). The premier and the president have spoken about Yeh and both hope that he stays on, Presidential Office spokesman Ma Wei-kuo (��޳��) announced late yesterday. The Kuomintang (KMT) legislative caucus released a statement of ��full support�� for Yeh and urged that he be retained. According to an official that spoke on condition of anonymity, Yeh is considering remaining for a limited time to prepare the ministry to take over the THSRC. In the absence of a financial restructuring plan, the THSRC is expected to declare bankruptcy and to fall under government receivership as early as May.

Minister Resigns At the Legislative Yuan, the Transportation Committee (���q�e���|) voted 18 to 0 to turn down the Ministry of Transportation and Communication’s (MOTC) rescue plan for the embattled rail service. Following the vote, Yeh held a news conference to announce his resignation. He defended the financial restructuring plan as an important two-year effort aimed at benefiting the public. ��(The Legislature’s decision) will lead to the high-speed rail’s bankruptcy and the MOTC must now prepare to purchase it, possibly at society’s expense,�� Yeh said. ��Some media outlets and so-called experts�� have deliberately created misunderstandings over the MOTC’s proposal to reverse the high-speed rail’s fortune, he said. ��They believe that the plan promotes enrichment of local corporations. I cannot accept that. In the interest of taking public responsibility, I tender my resignation, effective immediately,�� Yeh said. Yeh was appointed transportation minister in February 2013.

THSRC Chairman Resigns THSRC Chairman Tony Fan (�S�ӱj) also resigned yesterday, lamenting the intrusion of politics on what is a ��professional matter.�� Fan, emphasizing that he is a manager ��who does not understand politics,�� said his opinion is that the restructuring plan subjects the taxpayer to the lowest cost possible.

Proposal At the Legislative Yuan yesterday, the Transportation Committee reviewed the MOTC’s plan to extend the rail’s concession period by 40 years. This would allow the company’s five original shareholders to exclusively operate under the current build-operate-transfer (BOT) model for 59 years, during which THSRC would earn an estimated revenue of NT$3.1582 trillion. According the MOTC’s calculations, the projected revenue would be sufficient to cover operational and equipment costs, bank loans, interest payments and dividends of NT$196.4 billion to shareholders. At the Legislative Yuan yesterday, tempers flared as opposition mounted from lawmakers across party lines. The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Kuan Bi-ling (�޺Ѭ�) charged the MOTC with colluding with the five original shareholders, who stand to reap major financial benefits. KMT lawmaker Lin Kuo-cheng (�L�꥿) railed against the proposal’s fare reduction of 6.13 percent, which does not return pricing to where it was before last year’s 9.48-percent hike.