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Gov't Pledges US$176 Mln to Tackle Pollution
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The government will invest more than 1.33 billion yuan (US$176 million) to help cut pollutant emissions and build more effective environmental monitoring systems across the country, said Vice-Minister of Finance Zhang Hongli.

Zhang said the charge on sulfur dioxide emissions will be doubled to 1.26 yuan per kilogram within three years and that on chemical oxygen demand (COD) emissions should be raised to a varying extent in accordance with local conditions, according to a statement on the ministry's website.

Environment of the Kunyu River in Beijing has greatly improved in the past years.

The central government released a comprehensive blueprint in June on cutting emissions of pollutants and energy saving. According to the plan, the feasibility of imposing an environment tax should be studied and a tax on resource use should be introduced.

The levy on sewage discharge will also be raised from the current 0.67 yuan (9 US cents) per ton.

The Ministry of Finance will channel more funds to environmental protection departments, Zhang said.

The funds will be used to support pollution monitoring, law enforcement and the setting of environmental standards, he said.

The ministry has set up a special fund for the environmental monitoring in central and western China, Zhang said. "Fiscal support for environmental monitoring in poor regions has been strengthened."

The central government coffer recently established a special fund for cutting pollutant emissions.

It will mainly be used to monitor pollutant emissions and build an index and appraisal system for emission monitoring.

Zhang said 1.33 billion yuan had been earmarked for this. The fund will also be used to promote emissions trading, Zhang said.

Local governments achieving the highest emission reductions will be rewarded, the official said.

The impact of cutting emissions and the closure of heavily polluting companies on poor regions would be assessed and subsidies or rewards would be offered to them.

Zhang said the government has drafted rules on the management of the use of funds for emission cuts. Subsidies would be given to western regions that are active in building wastewater treatment facilities.

(Xinhua News Agency August 25, 2007)

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