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China Mulls Tax on Disposable Products

State authorities are considering a consumption tax for disposable chopsticks, plastic bags, diapers and other environmentally harmful goods next year.

The tax reform planned for next year will also include preferential policies for the recycling industry, said China's taxation chief Xie Xuren at a seminar in Beijing recently.

The move echoes the nation's 11th five-year proram, covering 2006 to 2010, that espouses the efficient use of resources as a "primary strategy" and aims at building an "environmentally friendly society."

Scholars attending the seminar applauded the new tax proposal. "Things like disposable chopsticks and plastic bags cause a big waste on natural resources and pose environmental hazards," said Li Xiangju of Xi'an Communications University.

Professor Zhu Qing with Renmin University suggested levying the tax as part of the retail price to discourage consumers.

A shrinking market would cut production and reduce the waste of resources, he said.

However, scholars also warned that it was difficult to identify products as disposable.

"Green taxation is an international trend," said Jin Dongsheng, a leading researcher of the State Taxation Administration. Some European nations levy tax on sulphur dioxide discharge.

New Zealand will tax the emission of smoke and dust, and Sweden will levy a traffic congestion tax starting 2006.

Meanwhile, the taxation chief said China is set to replace road-use fees with a fuel tax in the next five years. The authorities will also levy a property tax and charge the money annually, which may cut the present house prices by 40 percent, according to experts.

(Shenzhen Daily November 24, 2005)

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