Pol­lu­tion fees could be­come law of the land

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHENG JINRAN and CAO YIN in Bei­jing

A draft of China’s first en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion tax law, sub­mit­ted to the top leg­isla­tive body for ini­tial dis­cus­sion onMon­day, may im­pose heav­ier penal­ties on pol­luters than ever be­fore.

The Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple' s Congress read the draft dur­ing its bi­monthly meet­ing, from Mon­day to Satur­day.

The draft des­ig­nates four tax­able types of pol­lu­tion — air­borne and wa­ter pol­lu­tants, solid waste and noise. Com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als who di­rectly dis­charge these would be sub­ject to the tax, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Lou Ji­wei told the top leg­is­la­tors on Mon­day morn­ing. The draft adopted the cur­rent stan­dards for pol­lu­tant dis­charge fees as the lower range, and pro­vin­cial level gov­ern­ments would have the author­ity to raise tax fees based on the en­vi­ron­men­tal sit­u­a­tion in their ju­ris­dic­tions, Lou said.

The draft also stip­u­lates in­cen­tives to re­duce emis­sions, say­ing the tax­pay­ers could re­ceive a 50 per­cent re­duc­tion if they low­ered their air­borne and wa­ter pol­lu­tant emis­sions by half of the na­tional or pro­vin­cial stan­dards.

Mu­nic­i­pal sewage and house­hold waste treat­ment plants would be ex­empted from the tax, as would mo­bile pol­lu­tion sources like ve­hi­cles, ves­sels and air­planes. Agri­cul­tural pol­lu­tants would also be ex­cluded, though large-scale breed­ing farms would be taxed.

The pro­posal would yield an es­ti­mated 22.8 bil­lion yuan to 45.7 bil­lion yuan ($3.42 bil­lion to $6.85 bil­lion) in an­nual tax rev­enue, ac­cord­ing to State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Tax­a­tion re­search.

Shi Zheng­wen, a pro­fes­sor of fis­cal and tax law at China Univer­sity of Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence and Law, said the pro­posed tax comes at a good time, con­sid­er­ing the se­vere pol­lu­tion in

re­cent years and the on­go­ing eco­nomic re­form.

“It’s not an ex­tra bur­den for com­pa­nies, but a more stan­dard­ized tax with stronger force, and eas­ier for tax­pay­ers to fol­low,” Shi said, adding it would not greatly ex­pand the ex­ist­ing fees.

But some small com­pa­nies that gen­er­ate huge emis­sions would face greater fi­nan­cial pres­sure. Be­causeof this, thetax would help cull out­dated ca­pac­ity and force com­pa­nies to im­prove their fa­cil­i­ties and tech­nolo­gies, ad­vanc­ing the na­tion’ s tran­si­tion to­ward green eco­nomic growth, he said.

The draft is seen as a ma­jor step in tax­a­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, said Chang Ji­wen, an ex­pert in en­vi­ron­men­tal poli­cies at the State Coun­cil De­vel­op­ment Re­search Cen­ter.

China be­gan levy­ing pollu- tant dis­charge fees in 2003. From 2003 to 2015, more than 211.6 bil­lion yuan was col­lected.

Lou said those fees have been ef­fec­tive “in pre­vent­ing and con­trol­ling en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion”, but lo­cal gov­ern­ments some­times in­ter­fered or ne­glected to col­lect them, mak­ing it nec­es­sary to es­tab­lish a law.

“It will be good to strengthen forces against pol­lut­ing emis­sions from the root and avoid gov­ern­ments' ad­min­is­tra­tive in­ter­fer­ence,” the NPC's Fi­nan­cial and Eco­nomic Af­fairs Com­mit­tee said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.