China's Parliament this year will not discuss the issue of property tax, which many believe could help rein in runaway property prices, a senior government official has said.
But the enactment of a property tax Bill has been included in the five-year plan of the National People's Congress (NPC), said Ms Fu Ying, its spokesman, yesterday.
"There has been a lot of discussion on this issue as such a Bill covers a wide area and involves a wide range of interests," she added.
"As far as I know, there are no plans for the NPC to deliberate on a draft property tax Bill this year."
She was speaking to local and foreign media ahead of the opening of the NPC's annual session today.
Domestic issues on NPC's agenda
AMENDING GENERAL PROVISIONS OF CHINA'S CIVIL LAW
After 30 years of rapid development, the general principles of the civil law, formulated in 1986, require updating. For example, the issue of children left behind in the rural areas and the trend of an ageing population have been under the media spotlight.
The NPC will propose changes to improve the guardianship system and expand its scope, especially in terms of protecting incapacitated elderly, said NPC spokesman Fu Ying.
She acknowledges that fighting smog is a long- term challenge.
"We must continue to strengthen our legal framework on environmental protection and we need to supervise the enforcement of laws once they are enacted," she noted.
Some parts of the country also face serious water and soil pollution. Ms Fu said the NPC standing committee will be revising the law to tackle both areas.
As China implements the two-child policy, relevant policies and services need to be upgraded to cater to new needs.
FOOD, TRANSPORT SAFETY
In the past four years, 20 law enforcement inspections have been carried out in areas including food and transportation safety.
This year's subject of supervision includes a drug management law, a product quality law and a minors' protection law, said Ms Fu.
Chong Koh Ping
The booming real-estate sector in China's first- and second-tier cities has raised concerns of a property market burst.
This could result in a hard landing for the world's second-largest economy.
It is widely acknowledged that property taxes could help keep a lid on the runaway prices to cool the property market.
However, in a year when the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will see a top-level reshuffle at its 19th Party Congress, observers have dismissed the likelihood of such a measure for it could destabilise the economy.
China introduced a pilot property tax programme in south-western Chongqing and Shanghai to test the waters in 2010.
But the unpopular policy never took off.
In 2013, a reform plan approved by the third plenary session of the CCP's central committee made it clear that the legislation of property taxes would be speeded up.
Ms Fu yesterday noted that the slowing economy and the changing global environment have made companies more sensitive towards taxes and fees.
Reducing the burden on companies is important to reviving the economy.
It is one of the key challenges that need to be addressed through reforms, she added.
The NPC will be revising the small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) promotion laws so as to reduce the cost burden on SMEs.
Enacted in 2003, the law aims to develop SMEs, including ensuring a level playing field for them.
This year, the NPC standing committee will also look into the issue of non-tax revenues in order to introduce a law-based management of such revenues.
China aims to achieve full statutory taxation by 2020.
This means that the type of taxes, tax rates and from whom they are collected, will be based on laws passed by the NPC.
"All these are meant to provide a good environment for the healthy development of private companies," Ms Fu added.