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Gov't Hikes Charges on Reclaiming Land from the Sea
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China has hiked the charges on reclaiming land from the sea to curb an upsurge of the practice that has damaged the oceanic environment, sources with the Ministry of Finance and State Oceanic Administration told state media on Saturday.

A new policy that came into effect from Thursday sets the minimum charge for filling sea areas at 300,000 yuan (US$37,500) per hectare and a maximum of 1.95 million yuan per hectare, the Beijing-based People's Daily quoted sources with the ministries as saying.

The fees are the highest among all kinds of charges on using sea areas specified in the new rules and must be paid at one time, said the sources.

The previous regulation had required a minimum 1,500 yuan charge per year for each hectare of marine area occupied since 1993.

"Since China imposed strict curbs on land use, developers have turned to reclaiming land from the sea due to low charging standards," the sources were quoted.

"The surge of land reclamation involving large sea areas around the country not only misused limited oceanic resources but also damaged nearby environment," said the sources.

About 300 square kilometers of sea areas were filled each year from 2001 to 2005, A Dong, an official with the State Oceanic Administration, has said.

Meanwhile, some coastal regions have cut the charges on using sea areas at will under the name of attracting investment, causing losses of state-owned resources, according to the newspaper.

The new policy has banned such operations, stating that the floor price for the bidding of the right to use sea areas must be put at or above the charging standard.

China collected 1.55 billion yuan from charging land reclamation from the sea last year, according to the Ministry of Finance.

(Xinhua News Agency March 4, 2007)

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