China to levy new taxes in bid to strengthen pol­lu­tion fight

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

China’s largely rub­ber-stamp par­lia­ment passed a law yes­ter­day that will levy spe­cific en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion taxes on in­dus­try for the first time from 2018, as part of a re­newed fo­cus on fight­ing the coun­try’s pol­lu­tion woes. Anger has risen in the world’s sec­ond­largest econ­omy at the govern­ment’s re­peated fail­ure to tackle land, wa­ter and air pol­lu­tion, with large parts of north­ern China en­veloped in dan­ger­ous smog in re­cent days.

“Tax rev­enue is an im­por­tant eco­nomic means to pro­mote en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion,” the Fi­nance Min­istry said in a state­ment. The tax rate will be 1.2 Yuan ($0.17) per unit of at­mo­spheric pol­lu­tion, 1.4 Yuan per unit of wa­ter pol­lu­tion, 5 Yuan per ton of coal waste and 1,000 Yuan per ton of “haz­ardous waste.” In­dus­trial noise pol­luters will also be levied 350 Yuan per month if they ex­ceed lim­its by 1-3 deci­bels, 700 Yuan for 4-6 deci­bels and 11,200 Yuan per month for 16 deci­bels and more.

The law goes into ef­fect on Jan 1, 2018. China has not pre­vi­ously im­posed any spe­cific en­vi­ron­men­tal taxes, and the new levy will re­place an ear­lier sys­tem of mis­cel­la­neous charges that are re­garded as far too low to de­ter pol­luters. Of­fi­cials have re­peat­edly stressed that the new pol­icy is not de­signed to in­crease the tax bur­den on en­ter­prises. “The core pur­pose (of the pol­icy) isn’t to in­crease taxes, but is to im­prove the sys­tem, and en­cour­age en­ter­prises to re­duce emis­sions - the more they emit the more they will pay, and the less they emit the less they will pay,” en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter Chen Jin­ing said ear­lier this year.

The de­tails of the new law have been fiercely con­tested by the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion, the Min­istry of Fi­nance, the State Tax­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion and lo­cal gov­ern­ments, and has been sub­ject to re­peated de­lays. Con­flicts of in­ter­est have emerged as other de­part­ments worry about lost rev­enues once the pre­vi­ous sys­tem of emis­sion dis­charge fees is abol­ished. Some govern­ment re­searchers have also ar­gued that car­bon diox­ide and other green­house gases should be in­cluded in the plans.

Jia Kang of the Min­istry of Fi­nance’s In­sti­tute of Fis­cal Sci­ence com­plained this year that the en­vi­ron­men­tal tax pro­pos­als were far too con­ser­va­tive, with the tax rate per ton of sul­phur diox­ide still much cheaper than pay­ing for the equip­ment re­quired to stop it en­ter­ing the at­mos­phere. He sug­gested that, in or­der to avoid in­creas­ing the tax bur­den on firms, other busi­ness taxes should be cut and re­placed by the en­vi­ron­men­tal tax, which would give au­thor­i­ties a more pow­er­ful tool to force a firm to im­prove its en­vi­ron­men­tal per­for­mance.

BEI­JING: A man wear­ing a mask for pro­tec­tion against air pol­lu­tion pushes his lug­gage at the Bei­jing Cap­i­tal In­ter­na­tional Air­port as the cap­i­tal of China is shrouded by heavy smog.

—AP Pho­tos

BEI­JING: Res­i­dents en­joy a clear day near the iconic CCTV head­quar­ters af­ter a cold front pushed out heavy pol­lu­tion from Bei­jing, China.

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