A day after the government announced an increase in fuel taxes, it offered vehicle owners some relief with a plan to abolish toll fees on 60 percent of the second-tier roads in the country.
According to the plan, scheduled to take effect on Jan 1, six fees, currently being charged for road or waterway maintenance and management, would be completely done away with.
Vehicle owners would, however, be required to shell out more money as fuel consumption charges, with the tax on gasoline being raised from 0.2 yuan (3 cents) to 1 yuan per liter, and diesel tax going up to 0.8 yuan from 0.1 yuan per liter, as per the new fuel tax plan unveiled on Friday.
As toll taxes on second-tier roads are gradually eliminated, more than half of the fee-charging roads would become toll free, the government said.
In a written statement to the press, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Transport and the State Administration of Taxation said the second-tier toll roads account for more than 60 percent of all toll roads in the country.
Second-tier roads are those with a designated speed limit of 60 to 80 km per hour, and without a divider or a central line to separate vehicles traveling in both directions.
At the end of 2007, the length of second-tier roads was 276,400 km, as compared to the country's total road length of 2.53 million km, including 53,900 km of expressways, the Ministry of Transport said.
The move to eliminate taxes on a majority of second-tier roads will help reduce the burden on ordinary people, but its progress depends on the economic development and the fiscal status of the government, the statement said.
The Shanghai-based China Business News said on Sunday that the Ministry of Transport had finished drafting a plan to remove some 150,000 fee-collecting staff from the roads and submitted it to the State Council for approval.