SCMP Friday, November 17, 2000

Hongkong Electric applies for higher tariffs

Hongkong Electric has applied to increase its tariffs from January 1, potentially affecting about 520,000 households on Hong Kong Island and Lamma.
The company yesterday played down reports it was seeking to raise its fees by five per cent. It said that even if negotiations with the Government resulted in an increase, tariffs might not be raised across the board and consideration would be given to customers in lower income groups. "The five per cent figure is pure speculation," said spokeswoman Juliana Ma Ching-ping. "Hongkong Electric has submitted an application for a tariff increase as part of an annual review process but it is too early to say whether there will be an increase or not."
The Economic Services Bureau said it had received an application for a tariff increase, but said it could not confirm reports that Hongkong Electric was proposing an increase of five per cent. A spokesman said the application would be considered during the bureau's annual tariff review but could not indicate when the review would be completed.
CLP Power, which supplies electricity to Kowloon, the New Territories and the other outlying islands, indicated it would not pursue a similar increase. "We see no pressure to change our tariffs in 2001," said CLP managing director Michael Price.
Legislator Lau Chin-shek said Hongkong Electric's annual net profits had reached $5 billion and there was no pressure for the company to increase tariffs.
"The Government has recently granted Hongkong Electric's four-year development plan, including building a new plant on Lamma Island, which undoubtedly will create pressure for the company to increase tariffs. But it is unfair to use tariffs to fund its investment," he said.