Despite enjoying agricultural tax exemption, China's farmers should get more support from the government, says an article in Nanfang Metropolis Daily. An excerpt follows:
On December 21, Henan and Zhejiang provinces vowed to cancel agricultural tax from next year and a similar decision has also been made by Guangdong, Jiangsu and Shanxi provinces.
The central government said in March it expected to cancel the agricultural tax in three to five years.
But how much will farmers benefit from this agricultural tax exemption policy?
Take farmers in Henan Province as an example. Their average annual income will rise from 2,550 yuan (US$308) to 2,570 yuan (US$311) as a result of this favorable policy, amounting to less than 1 percent.
According to statistics released by the State Administration of Taxation, agricultural tax was only less than 2 percent of last year's total tax revenue - a negligibly small proportion.
This partly explains why so many provinces sped up their application for agricultural tax exemption. The development gap between China's rural and urban areas keeps widening. It is right time now to reverse this trend.
Last July, Jin Renqing, minister of finance, said public finance would be given to rural areas.
However, the focus of public finance does not confine itself only to agricultural tax exemption. The government should provide more financial support to agriculture, the countryside and farmers as a whole.
As for the present situation in China's rural areas, education and infrastructure construction top the pantheon of financial issues.
Government financial support should go to help school dropouts of poverty-stricken rural families.
Equipped with more techniques and knowledge, these rural children will become a mainstay of future countryside development.
(China Daily December 31, 2004)