Petroleum Workers To Block Privatization Of Taiwan's CPC

CNA, Asia Pulse, Wednesday 30 October 30 2002, 11:17 AM

TAIPEI, Oct 30 Asia Pulse—Concerned about losing their jobs in the process of company privatization, workers of the Chinese Petroleum Corp. (CPC) intend to block the screening of the privatization plan at the Legislative Yuan scheduled for Wednesday, a spokesman of the CPC workers union said Tuesday.

The spokesman said that over the past years, in the process of privatization, many state enterprises have laid off large numbers of employees and put those jobless workers in jeopardy.

Having little faith in a satisfactory implementation of the privatization, the workers union and several legislators jointly held a public hearing at the Legislative Yuan Tuesday morning to express their objection to a quick implementation of the plan.

The spokesman said that the government promised that the CPC would sell no more than 66 per cent of its shares so that the government can maintain its management and veto rights in the board.

On the other hand, the Ministry of the Economic Affairs, in its budget plan for 2003, included revenue from the planned sale of 23 per cent of the CPC stakes. In addition to the 15 per cent originally planned to be sold in 1998, 18 per cent in 1999, and another 15 per cent in 2002, a total of 71 per cent of the stakes will be in private hands if the privatization plan is fully implemented next year, according to the spokesman.

The CPC had started to plan for the privatization in the late 1990s as part of the government’s state-enterprises privatization efforts. However, legislative delays and a dropping stock market have caused the CPC privatization plan to be shelved for years.

Over the past years, the privatization of the CPC has remained only on paper. However, with the recent liberalization of the domestic oil products market, the CPC is expecting that for the sake of competitiveness, the CPC privatization plan will be supported by legislators.

The CPC submitted the draft of its privatization plan to the legislature on Sept. 25 for approval. The screening by the economics and energy committee as well as the budget committee had been pending since a plenary meeting on Oct. 1 decided to return the draft to the rules committee after receiving petitions from the workers union.

As the economics ministry has included the CPC’s privatization plan in its 2003 budget plan, the economics and energy committees will have to screen the CPC privatization on Oct. 30-31 while reviewing the economics ministry’s overall budget.

The union spokesman said that the union intends to block the screening of the privatization plan unless the economics ministry can guarantee transparency of company operations and the implementation of the privatization plan.

Hoping that the workers union will call off the demonstration at the legislature on Wednesday, an official of the Commission of National Corporations said that the workers need not worry about their jobs because the CPC is by no means a money-losing business.

Not only will the privatization process be transparent, the government will pay full attention to prospective investors, he said.