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Agricultural tax to be phased out in 5 years
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-09-11 10:37

With the commitment made by the Chinese Government to farmers, agriculture and rural areas, the country's 800 million farmers' payment of agricultural tax based on the number of their families and cropland acreage is about to be phased out.

Premier Wen Jiabao announced on March 5 that agricultural tax will go altogether in five years. People from all walks of life across China have applauded the move.

In his government work report to the annual session of the country's top legislature, Wen said, except for tobacco, the tax on special agricultural products will be rescinded in 2004, and the overall agricultural tax rate will be reduced by over 1 percentage point each year.

Agricultural tax will be rescinded in five years.

By 1 per cent reduction in agriculture tax, farmers' burdens will be reduced by as much as 11.8 billion yuan (US$1.42 billion) this year.

"People say it's a backbreaking job to grow grain crops, but after a year's toil and sweating, grain farmers hardly earn any money," said Bai Guiru, a woman peasant farmer from Jituo village of Laoting County, in North China's Hebei Province, "These words of the premier's mean so much to us."

The Chinese Government's decision is based on prolonged, serious study and deliberation by the central leadership.

President Hu Jintao braced heavy snowfall to visit farmers' and herdsmen's homes shortly after he assumed his presidency at the beginning of 2003.

The sixth "No 1 Document" relating to agriculture was issued early this year after 18 years.

Other senior officials also trekked to rural areas to go among the masses of farmers to look into ways of coping with long-standing problems hampering the development of China's rural areas.

Two central government conferences on issues relating to agriculture, rural areas and farmers were convened in the past year. This year's No 1 Document was also centred on the same issue.

Hail from experts

Even sober-minded experts and scholars spoke highly of the government's resolve to help farmers ease their financial burden.

"For the past 2,000-plus years, Chinese authorities had given top priority to agriculture, but what they did aimed to increase farmers' productivity instead of protecting their interests," said Zeng Yesong, an agriculture expert with the Party School of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

"Beyond any doubt, the rescindment of agricultural tax will be a direct subsidy for farmers and constitute a new approach of the government to boost agriculture," the expert told Xinhua.

This new policy is of great significance to China's grain safety as it will encourage farmers to produce more, said Liu Liren, director of the Agricultural and Forestry Bureau in East China's Jiangsu Province.

With his in-depth understanding of the related policy, Li Yuanchao, secretary of the CPC Jiangsu provincial committee, said that the government is carrying out the principle of "Put People First and Centre on the People," to offer farmers a golden opportunity.

China is one of a few countries in the world that levy agricultural tax.

Premier Wen's announcement has also aroused interest among diplomatic envoys of other countries in China.

Azerbaijani Ambassador to China Yashar Aliyev acknowledged that China's reform began with the agriculture sector, and the tax-cutting scheme would once again determine the orientation for the country's economic and social development in the years ahead.

According to media reports, agricultural tax rescindment has already been enforced by the municipal governments of Beijing and Shanghai and East China's Zhejiang Province.

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