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Viet Nam: National Assembly Discusses Environmental Taxes and Fees
Source: vietnamnet.vn
Source Date: Saturday, July 24, 2010
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Citizen Engagement
Country: Viet Nam
Created: Aug 01, 2010

VietNamNet Bridge – Who are defined as environmental tax payers and the difference between environmental taxes and fees were top of the agenda at the 32nd meeting session of the National Assembly Standing Committee yesterday, July 23.

Phung Quoc Hien, chairman of the NA’s Finance and Budget Committee, said that there were differences between environmental protection taxes and fees.

Fees were imposed on sources of pollution and fee payers were those who discharged waste to the environment, Hien said, adding that environment fees currently included waste water, solid waste, mineral exploiting fees.

Meanwhile, environment taxes were levied on consumers including organisations and individuals using products which caused pollution to the environment, he said.

Facts showed that environment fee collection over the recent past have remained limited and was not enough for localities to resolve pollution.

Therefore, imposing both environmental taxes and fees on different stages of commodity production-consumption processes was necessary, Hien stressed.

Disagreeing with the report of the Finance and Budget Committee, chairman of the NA Committee for Culture, Education, Youth and Children Dao Trong Thi said, "If we levy an environmental tax on goods, we won’t be able to encourage producers to renovate their technology and apply greener production methods that minimise discharges already affecting the environment."

He suggested an environment tax be imposed on producers to encourage them to use clean technology.

Chairman of the Economics Committee Ha Van Hien said that whether it was fee or tax, consumers were final payers, thus fees should be converted into taxes.

However, Minister of Finance Vu Van Ninh said that fees aimed to limit the volume of waste discharged, the more waste producers let out, the more they had to pay.

"In cases where the volume of waste a company discharges exceeds allowed levels, then the company should be punished in line with regulations of the Law on Environment Protection," he said.

NA deputies also discussed the draft law’s Article 13 which regulates that only oil and petroleum producers are exempt from environment fees, other goods including coal were not excepted.

Deputy Hien said that coal was a commodity which through its extraction and processing process seriously polluted the environment, and therefore coal producers were not exempt from environment fees.

Coal consumers had to pay taxes as part of a way to encourage efficiency and thrift, Hien said.

Deputies agreed on the draft law’s regulation that five products including oil and petroleum; coal; HCFCs (hydrochloro-fluorocarbons); soft plastic bags and some pesticides would be taxed.

NA deputy chairman Uong Chu Luu suggested that some goods such as cleaning chemicals and batteries should be subject to the tax as they had severe impact on environment and people health.

Deputies also agreed on the Item 3, Article 4 of the draft law which states that exported goods were not subject to the tax.

Law on Minerals
Also yesterday, NA deputies discussed the revised Law on Minerals.

K’sor Phuoc, chairman of the NA Council of Ethnic Minorities, suggested the State prohibit local agencies from licensing mineral-exploitation investment projects.

NA Deputy Chairman Uong Chu Luu said provincial People’s Committees should only be allowed to grant licences to firms that explore, exploit and process minerals for the construction industry.

Luu said the proposed regulation would prevent excessive mineral exploitation and protect the environment. He also said areas rich in minerals should be mapped and clearly defined.

Deputies also said that tighter regulations should be imposed on the mineral-exploitation bidding process.

Pham Khoi Nguyen, natural resources and environment minister, said the State could not afford to fund the exploitation of the country’s mineral resources by itself, which was why the process was put out to tender.

Nguyen Van Thuan, chairman of the NA Law Committee, suggested that mineral-rich areas should be clearly defined to protect over-exploitation and abuses of the law.

Thuan also suggested that the export of minerals be tightly regulated to prevent economic losses to the country.
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