China to let local government keep environment tax revenues

FILE PHOTO; Buildings are seen through thick haze in downtown Shanghai November 7, 2013. REUTERS/Aly Song

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will allow local government to keep all the environment tax revenues raised from polluting firms, the State Council said on Wednesday, in an attempt to encourage local authorities to enforce environmental protection measures.

Under a new scheme, local authorities have been given the power to set their own tax rates on firms emitting air and water pollutants from January. Regions including Beijing, Shanghai and Hebei have already published their tax schemes.

The new regulation, approved by the State Council in late last year, follows President Xi Jinping’s declaration in speeches since 2012 that “green hills and clear waters are the true gold and silver mines.” .

Beijing has been striving to curb pollution by launching a national carbon emission trading scheme and introducing a green electricity certificate system.

It has also regularly sent out environmental inspectors across the country since 2016. On Wednesday, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, citing inspectors, criticized local officials in Shandong for evading mandatory industrial production curbs.

“Giving ownership of environmental tax revenue to local governments will help increase environmental protection investment and improve the environmental situation across the country,” the State Council said in a statement.

Reporting by Muyu Xu and Ryan Woo; Editing by Mark Potter