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New Policy to Lessen Farmers' Tax Burden
Curbing price irregularities that go against farmers' interests is to top the agenda of the State Development and Reform Commission for the rest of this year, the China Daily reported Monday.

The commission unveiled a package of measures at the weekend aimed at eliminating farmers-related pricing irregularities that violate central government regulations and requirements.

Provincial authorities will be unable to levy new taxes on farmers without the central government's permission.

The commission will also require pricing authorities at all levels to make public the fee and tax rates related to farmers.

"Enrollment fees of high school and primary school students, taxes on house building and marriage registration fees are the main items that should be monitored by the public," the paper quoted an official surnamed Liu of the commission's Department of Pricing Supervision as saying.

The commission is also authorized to supervise the pricing of goods and services considered of special importance to people's lives and national economic security, according to the public.

The State Council has stipulated that the fees collected by authorities at village and township levels should be no more than 5 percent of farmers' average net income in the previous year within their jurisdiction.

However, the commission, which is authorized by the central government to administer pricing, has received about 200 complaints from farmers since January. Farmers say local administrative authorities levy high taxes on them, despite state policies prohibiting this practice.

(China Daily April 28, 2003)

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