China mulls tougher taxes on resource exploitation

Updated: 2007-03-20 10:56

China will study ways to impose tougher tax measures for resource exploitation to curb excessive consumption, Ma Kai, China's top economic planner, said on Monday.

The current taxes, which are levied according to the amount of resources exploited, are "obviously too low", Ma said.

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"While each ton of crude oil is sold at more than 3,000 yuan (375 U.S. dollars) in China, the cost of the tax is only 14 to 30 yuan per ton," Ma said.

In the next five years, the government will speed up tax reforms in this area, which will be an important tool to promote resource efficiency, he said.

There are hard nuts to crack in the reform, including setting different tax rates for exploiting different grades of ores and avoiding damage to consumers' interests and other related industries, said Ma.

While China's gross domestic product accounted for 5.5 percent of the world economy last year, it used energy equaling 2.46 billion tons of standard coal, about 15 percent of the world's total energy consumption, said Ma.

The country used 388 million tons of steel last year, 30 percent of the world's total and 1.24 billion tons of cement, 54 percent of the world's total.

Most of the country's 130,000 mining enterprises have obtained their mining rights free of charge or at a low cost. The low threshold for mining has led to severe safety problems.

Last November, China began charging fees for coal prospecting and mining in eight major coal-producing provinces and regions.

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