China business news digest

Establishment of national property registry on track and new coal tax takes effect.

Operation Fox Hunt nabs more fugitives

Over 150 suspects have surrendered to authorities ahead of a December 1 deadline for people suspected of corruption who have fled overseas reports the Beijing News.

According to the paper, at least 335 people have been arrested as part of the international campaign dubbed “Operation Fox Hunt” including at least 154 people who have handed themselves in.

Chinese President Xi Jinping launched Operation Fox Hunt in July as an extension to his far-reaching domestic campaign to root out corruption.

Authorities offered an olive branch to fugitives fleeing corruption charges, saying if they returned and plead guilty by December 1, they would receive a reduced punishment.

According to China’s central bank, over 18,000 officials have made off with more than $US123 billion since the mid-1990s.

(Beijing News)

Establishment of national property registry on track 

China has issued draft rules that would regulate the establishment of a nationwide property-registration system in August this year.

According to news website The Paper, the draft rules have been approved by the State Council -- the equivalent of China's cabinet -- and will come into effect on March 1, 2015.

The property-registration system is hoped to help the government track homeownership, fight corruption and eventually make it easier to rollout a property tax nationwide.

The establishment of some kind of property registry has long been a stated goal of the central government but the plan has been delayed many times in the face of obstruction from local governments and other vested interests.

It appears that some changes have been made to the original draft guidelines, with the addition of 5 clauses, including more detailed provisions for different types of assets and other clarifications.

However, the information contained in the registry still won't be available to the general public, according to the final draft of the rules.

(The Paper)

Key SOE reform measures to be announced soon

Key policies and more detailed measures related to the long-touted shake up of China's state-owned enterprises have already been submitted to a newly-established body affiliated with China's State Council for review, according to the China Securities Journal citing an unnamed ‘authoritative source’.

The front page report says 8 separate 'top-level design' programs are currently being researched and formulated and that these programs will be gradually rolled out along with 34 supporting measures during the first quarter of 2015.

The measures could be unveiled sequentially, with an initial announcement of an overall plan for SOE reform being supplemented by a dozen or so detailed measures, according to the article.

The newly established 'small leading group' for state-owned enterprise reform, a body under the China's State Council or cabinet, will set up a special body to guide and coordinate implementation of the policies and measures. 

According to the original plan, the general overview for the reforms along with a plan to overhaul management of state assets and develop 'mixed ownership' reforms were to be introduced before the end of the year.

The China Securities Journal reports that some of the plans have already been submitted to central authorities for discussion and have been amended multiple times.

The article says it's expected that the reform plans will not be released any later than the first quarter of 2015.

(China Securities Journal)

China lifts fuel-consumption tax 

China has increased its fuel-consumption tax the first time in five years amid falling global oil prices.

China raised the tax on gasoline, by 0.12 yuan a litre, according to a statement from the Ministry of Finance on Friday evening. This has taken the amount of tax on each litre of petrol to 1.12 yuan.

The levy on diesel, jet fuel and fuel oil has increased by 0.14 yuan a litre. 

The new levels went into effect on November 29, 2014.

The price of petrol at the pump will remain largely unchanged after the increase due to the recent falls in global oil prices. 

China will also halt the collection of some taxes on smaller-sized motorbikes. Consumption taxes on tyres, alcohol and leaded petrol will also be cancelled.

A prominent commentary in yesterday's Beijing Times said that the Ministry of Finance and State Administration of Taxation should release more details on how the funds raised by the tax increase will be spent.

(Beijing Times)

NDRC's Anti-Monopoly Bureau to target 'administrative monopolies' in 2015

Getting rid of 'administrative monopolies' is the top priority of one of China's three anti-monopoly agencies, according to remarks made by Xu Kunlin, Director General of the Price Supervision and Inspection & Anti-Monopoly Bureau at the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), during a speech at a Chinese university on Monday.

Mr. Xu told the audience that the Chinese public could expect to see the number of these cases to increase in 2015, according to a China News Service report.

The official also called on the government to cease getting involved in normal competitive industries in order to allow the development of a fair competitive environment.

Earlier this year, Reuters ran a story saying that a culture of intimidation existed in the NDRC's price supervision and anti-monopoly bureau under Xu Kunlin's leadership. 

(China News Service)

China's new coal tax takes effect

A new resource tax on coal came into effect on December 1, according to a report carried on last night's CCTV evening news bulletin.

The introduction of the new tax was announced in late September and is aimed at encouraging more efficient use of coal to help to reduce pollution and also promote a shift in the country's economic development model.

The new tax will be calculated on the basis of prices, rather than production volumes.

The exact rates will be determined on a province-by-province basis, with each region limited to setting the tax rate at between 2 and 10 per cent.

According to the CCTV report, producers of coal, crude oil and natural gas will end up paying about the same amount of tax and other charges and fees have been cancelled to coincide with the introduction of the new resource tax.

(CCTV)