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UPDATED: August 5, 2013 NO. 32 AUGUST 8, 2013
Is It Time to Charge Vehicle Emission Fees?


Recent reports show that Beijing might levy pollutant discharge fees on automobiles. Gas stations will add the fee onto existing prices. Every liter of gas will require an approximate 2 yuan ($0.32) charge. The current oil price in the capital is about 7 yuan ($1.11), which means it may jump to 10 yuan ($1.59) per liter.

This news has sparked heated discussions on the Internet. Most people have expressed anger at the new policy, while some experts doubt its efficiency in curbing pollution and improving the urban environment, arguing that improving gas quality will do more good. The following are excerpts of opinions:

Li Yuheng (China Industrial Economy News): Why is the vehicle emission fee so strongly opposed? The major reason is that those who are to be charged are auto owners already under heavy tax burdens. Another reason is the vagueness of the fee collection standard. The current technique for exhaust emission tests is quite outdated, in light of the poor quality of fuel in some cases, which might lead to unfairness.

The discharge fee is to some extent indicating the government's efforts to push forward the use of new energy vehicles. Due to reasons like high prices and underdeveloped charging facilities for electronic cars, 74.4 percent of consumers surveyed said they would not turn to new energy vehicles just because of the emission fee.

While such a policy implies social benefits, applying it is a problem. There should be a scientific scheme set up to effectively curb the discharge of pollutants, while the use of collected fees is crystallized. Besides, favorable policies should be worked out to encourage more people to use clean energy vehicles.

Luo Lei (Qilu Evening News): Various auto-related tax fee charges actually account for 40-144 percent of the price of a vehicle. Buyers have to pay value-added, sales and consumption taxes when purchasing cars, in addition to subsequent vehicle and fuel charges. If a vehicle emission fee is added, I'm afraid auto consumption will be curbed.

Pu Jiangchao (Jiangsu Economic News): The vehicle emission fee is to be levied in accordance with discharge volumes. Drivers will be asked to pay for the pollution they cause to the environment, which makes the policy quite necessary. However, the fact is, drivers are actually already paying for discharging pollutants. It's unfair to demand they pay overlapping fees.

Before the fee is put into practice, public opinion should be fully taken into consideration. It's better to turn the "vehicle emission fee" into a "vehicle emission tax." Before actual practice, it should be submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for discussion.

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