As widespread pollution could hold back China's continued economic growth the country may introduce an environmental tax, reported Wednesday's Southern Daily.
"The country will gradually levy environment tax when conditions are ripe," Mao Rubai, chairman of the Environment and Resources Committee of the National People's Congress or parliament was quoted as saying at a workshop in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province.
The government only took into account production costs and sometimes the scarcity of resources when setting prices but often neglected environmental costs, he said, and explained that those who pollute would pay the tax.
Experts warn that an environmental crisis could threaten to wipe out China's gains made during three decades of rapid economic growth. China's 2005 sulphur dioxide emissions were more than 25.5 million tons. This is 27 percent more than in 2000.
Air quality in nearly half of China's cities is moderately or seriously polluted and 10 million hectares, or a tenth of the country's arable land, is polluted.
A preliminary draft law on establishing an economy based on recycling was discussed by around 300 delegates from governments, legislatures, enterprises, non-governmental organizations and academic circles last month.
Designed to offer a legal framework for sustainable development the draft law includes provisions on resource exploitation and conservation, waste recovery and recycling and sustainable consumption.
More than 10 provinces and municipalities in China have already published local regulations promoting recycling.
Mao said formulating an effective economic policy such as collecting an environment tax was critical.
(Xinhua News Agency December 7, 2006)