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Wednesday, September 26, 2001, updated at 08:48(GMT+8)

Taxes could be levied to protect ecology

Environmental taxes could soon be levied by the government to raise public awareness of ecological protection.

"We are discussing the policies with the financial and taxation departments, and related policies will be unveiled soon,'' said Liu Qifeng, deputy director of the Department of Planning and Financing under the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).

Liu made the remarks Tuesday in Beijing at an international workshop on environmental protection in China, sponsored by the State Information Center, the State Development Planning Commission and SEPA.

Liu did not disclose any finer details of the initiative but stressed that the aim is to better protect the environment.

"The tax income will be channeled to environmental protection expenses,'' Liu said.

Besides taxation, the government will work to bring as much foreign and private investment as possible into the State's environmental protection endeavor.

"We will usher in a market-oriented system in this field and ensure that those enterprises in the industry are profitable,'' said Hu Zhucai, deputy director of the Department of Foreign Capital Utilization under SDPC.

According to Hu, the government will work out measures to open up more wider to foreign capital for environmental protection.

"Most of the projects which were not open to foreign investors will be included in the final categories of the environmental project list," Hu said.

He added his commission will unveil the list very soon, and the investors will enjoy preferential policies on taxation in accordance with national and provincial laws and regulations.

Hu said, during the coming five years, China needs to earmark 700 billion yuan (US$84.3 billion) to protect the environment. Meanwhile, the government has listed 13 mammoth projects, which are designed to produce concrete environmental benefits in the near future.

The projects include waste water treatment, cleaning of polluted rivers and sea areas, and an environment monitoring system, which will cost approximately 100 billion yuan (US$12 billion).

At the two-day workshop that ends Wednesday, foreign officials and investors from more than 20 countries -- including Japan -- expressed interests in investing in China's environment industry.

"With common efforts made by the Japanese Government and non-governmental agencies, co-operation between Japan and China has been conducted in many areas of the industry,'' said Fujimura Hiro Yuki, vice-chairman of the Japan-China Economic Association.

"And for those loans provided to China at present, emphasis is in the assistance to inland areas and environmental projects.''

Source: China Daily

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Environmental taxes could soon be levied by the government to raise public awareness of ecological protection.

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