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Gov't Mulls to Impose Fuel Tax

China has been studying a fuel tax reform to replace the current road tolls imposed upon vehicles, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planner, announced in Beijing on Thursday.

The announcement came after media reports said on Wednesday that the government was likely to impose the fuel tax as early as next month.

The NDRC together with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport has jointly held discussions on related issues including abolishing road and waterway maintenance fees, lowering refined oil prices and improving the fuel pricing system.

The planner didn't specify when to launch the long-awaited reform.

The introduction of a fuel tax in China was first proposed in 1994 but has been delayed amid concerns that it would impose too great a burden on those who consumed more oil.

The government has instead collected road maintenance fees from automobile users regardless of how much gasoline or diesel oil they use.

Analysts said the on-going oil price drop presented a good opportunity for China to resume its fuel tax reform.

World crude oil prices fell to the current US$53.62, down more than 60 percent from the peak price of US$147 in mid-July.

(Xinhua News Agency November 21, 2008)

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