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Environmental tax gets approval

(Global Times)

08:21, December 13, 2011

The Ministry of Finance (MOF) has approved an environmental tax and officials are now allowing the proposal to undergo scientific debate and evaluation, the Legal Mirror reported.

The tax will be levied on carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, wastewater and solid waste. The petroleum and petro-chemical industries that consume high amounts of energy will be the main targets, the Beijing-based newspaper reported on Saturday.

The MOF is preparing to evaluate the proposal with the State Administration of Taxation and the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the report said.

Xu Wen, a tax policy expert from the MOF, told the newspaper conditions for the introduction of the environmental tax are ripe.

According to Xu, the tax is changing an already existing fee into a tax.

Some doubt the tax will have much effect on polluters. "The environmental evaluation system is not fully developed. The tax might possibly only increase hassles for ordinary people, rather than work effectively to tackle environmental pollution," said one microblog user.

The tax rate was a critical factor regarding whether the environmental tax will be effective, Xu said.

"The current pollution discharge fee is too low. Enterprises pay the fee rather than treat and control pollution," he was quoted as saying.

"It's critical to calculate the environmental costs into the GDP and collect the tax based on that. How to ensure the tax is used to protect the environment is another key concern," Ma Jun, the director at the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, told the Global Times yesterday.

In a statement issued on October 20, the State Council officially declared that it is actively promoting reform and research on environmental taxation, as well as developing a national emissions trading market.

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