In the past two months, international crude oil prices have fallen from a high level, and even fell to about 60 US dollars per barrel. Some professionals believe that low international oil prices are theoretically the right time to implement fuel tax reform.
Cha Daojiong, director of the International Energy Strategy Research Center of Renmin University of China, believes that the drop in international oil prices has theoretically created conditions for China to implement fuel tax reform.
However, he also said that as a public good, the price change of oil will ultimately be borne by consumers. Therefore, a series of issues such as how much fuel tax is collected, where it will be used after collection, and who will supervise it will need to be carefully studied by the relevant departments.
"A barrel of crude oil goes from Saudi Arabia to Shanghai to refineries and gas stations. There are value chains, cost chains, and interest chains in the middle, not to say that the decline in international oil prices and the decline in domestic oil prices will be as simple as that," he said.
China formally proposed a fuel tax in 1994. The Highway Law passed by the National People's Congress in 1997 proposed that "fuel surcharges be used instead of road maintenance fees." The topic of when to levy a fuel tax becomes the focus of society's attention almost every year. One of the reasons for the delay in introducing fuel taxes is the continued rise in international oil prices.
According to Xie Xuren, director of the State Administration of Taxation, fuel tax has been included in China's tax reform focus during the "11th Five-Year Plan" period. Minister of Finance Jin Renqing also said that the introduction of a fuel tax is unwavering, but it is necessary to find a suitable time.
In fact, China has long done various preparations for the introduction of fuel taxes, such as the formulation of specific plans, and even tax tickets have been prepared. However, in recent years, international oil prices have continued to run at a high level and factors such as the interests of all parties have been taken into consideration. This has disrupted prior arrangements, and the introduction of fuel taxes has been delayed.
"China will closely track changes in international oil prices, study and improve fuel tax reform programs, and actively create conditions to promote the introduction of fuel taxes as soon as possible." Deputy Minister of Finance Liao Xiaojun also said a few days ago.
According to Jin Renqing, the Minister of Finance, the Chinese government has not launched fuel tax reforms based on two concerns:
First, the design of fuel tax will not increase the tax burden of all consumers as a whole, but because some consumers and individuals use different amounts of fuel, the structural burden will change. Such as buses and taxis will pay more taxes, which will inevitably increase their burden. Similarly, similar situations will occur in other sectors, creating upward pressure on prices.
Second, international oil prices have been operating at a high level recently. The introduction of fuel tax is likely to increase the burden on enterprises and have a negative impact on the entire economy.
According to statistics, 30% of China's imported oil is consumed by cars, and some auto manufacturers have also stated that it is imperative to set a timetable for the introduction of the "fuel tax" as soon as possible. Because as long as you have a car, you have to pay for it if you do n’t get on the road. This virtually creates a lot of cars that do n’t need to go on the road, which wastes energy and increases congestion.
According to officials from the China Development and Reform Commission, China ’s oil prices currently do not include road construction and maintenance costs. This is the difference between China ’s oil price structure and foreign countries. European countries' oil prices include fuel taxes. At the same time, for the purpose of environmental protection and the suppression of petroleum resource consumption, heavy taxes are imposed on the consumption of gasoline and diesel. The proportion of fuel taxes in retail prices usually exceeds 50%, and the highest is more than 70%.
Jia Xinguang, chief analyst of China Automotive Industry Consulting Development Corporation, said that with the increase in China's oil consumption, the implementation of this policy is urgent.