BEIJING, March 10 (Xinhua) -- A political advisor called for a reform in toll ways in China on Saturday, suggesting scraping tolls in highways and cutting expressway fees.
Sun Jiye, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, made the suggestion during a plenary meeting of the top political advisory body.
Highways should be viewed as a public service product that the government offers free-of-charge, Sun said, adding that China, as the second largest economy in the world, is financially capable of making them toll-free.
"As traffic flow continues to pick up in Chinese expressways, toll fees should be reduced. It won't affect the investors in retrieving investment and making profits," said Sun, who is also deputy director of the Shandong Provincial Department of Supervision.
Tolling should be ceased after authorization period of tollbooths ends, Sun said.
China's regulation stipulates a maximum of 15 years of toll collection after a highway opens, but "profit-oriented" highways could toll for as long as 25 years.
Increasingly high tolls and rampant illegal tolling stations have long been criticized by the Chinese public and weighed on logistics costs which contribute to the country's inflation.
China's logistics costs account for 18 percent of gross domestic product, 80 percent more than that of many developed countries, and road tolls account for nearly one third of the operational costs of logistics enterprises, according to Sun.
In August 2011, the State Council, or China's Cabinet, issued new guidelines to promote the healthy development of the country's logistics industry and pledged to gradually eliminate tolls on secondary roads, reduce toll gates and restrict the number of toll ways.
Five central government departments launched a campaign in June 2011 to eliminate unauthorized tollbooths, as well as legal tollbooths that are continuing to operate beyond their authorization period.