Environmental tax should target more products: legislators

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The Vietnamese government should make more environmentally destructive products subject to the proposed Environmental Tax Law, lawmakers have said.

 

"It's insufficient and unfair" to propose that only five products be subject to the tax, Nguyen Thi Nguyet Huong, a National Assembly deputy from Hanoi told a house meeting Monday.

 

The five are oil, fuel, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC), plastic bags, and restricted pesticides.

 

Other polluting products like batteries should also be taxed, she said.

 

Phung Quoc Hien, chief of the National Assembly's Finance and Banking Standing Committee, said many members of his committee agreed that many more toxic products were missed by the bill.

 

Some representatives, meanwhile, were concerned that the new taxes, if approved, would increase consumer prices, while the law's ability to discourage people from using the products would not be guaranteed.

 

Representative Huynh Thanh Dat from Ho Chi Minh City said if public transportation could not effectively replace private means like motorbikes, fuel consumption would remain high despite taxes.

 

On the other hand, the taxes would increase production costs and consumer prices, and therefore causing difficulties in people's lives, Dat said.

 

Representative Tran Du Lich also from HCMC agreed with Dat, asking rhetorically whether the law aimed to lessen environmental pollution or to gain earnings for the state budget. He said taxes on fuel won't make people travel less.

 

Under the draft law, fuel would be taxed VND4,000 (US$0.21) per liter, and oil would be hit with a maximum tax of VND2,000 per liter.

 

In the meantime, Minister of Finance Vu Van Ninh told Thanh Nien he guaranteed that the law, if approved, wouldn't affect fuel prices, as fuel in Vietnam was already subject to environmental protection fees of VND1,000 per liter.

 

Plastic bags, which cause the most adverse effects on the environment, would suffer the highest increase in prices if the law is given the green light, according to Ninh.

 

The law mainly aims to make people use less fuel, not to make money for the government, the official said.

 

Ninh argued that Vietnam would collect VND14 trillion ($742.5 million) a year from the new environmental taxes, an increase of only VND3 trillion from the current annual environmental fee earnings. 

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