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China may kick in fuel tax, oil pricing reforms in Jan
Updated: 2008-12-04 19:34

BEIJING -- China's long-awaited fuel tax reform may start as early as January, along with the country's government-controlled oil pricing reforms, a senior official said Thursday.

"I personally think January 1 is a good time to introduce the fuel tax," Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said during participating in the fifth China-US Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) held in Beijing.

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The State Council, or the Cabinet, had discussed the reform plans of oil pricing mechanism and fuel tax and fees last week, and had decided to make public the draft reform plan to solicit public advice.

The country's moves to put a fuel tax in place came as the world crude prices had plunged almost 70 percent from the peak price of US$147 in mid-July. Analysts have argued that said the on-going oil price drop presented a good opportunity for China to resume its fuel tax reform.

Zhang said the Chinese government had reiterated its stance to launch a deepened reform on the country's resources, including energy, in the principle of reflecting "scarcity of resources, market supply and demand and environmental costs".

"Prices of domestic oil products still present a big gap in respect to this principle," he said, "so the government has decided to speed up the reforms."