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    China’s pollution tax to roll out This week, Phispers looks at the new environment protection law in China that came into force this month. The environment tax under this law is expected to hit businesses and push up drugs prices. Teva, which has received much flak for its restructuring plan announced last month, said its directors would undergo a pay cut. After taking action against Chinese drug firms, India now plans to inspect drug companies in the US and EU from which it imports critical medicines. Meanwhile, CEO-elect Vas Narasimhan talks about reimagining Novartis as a ‘medicines and data science’ company. And Indian pharma majors line up to bid for Sanofi’s European generic business. China’s environment tax to roll out from April; may spike drug prices, hit businesses   Come April, and China will levy tax on businesses and public institutions that discharge pollutants, based on the country’s new Environmental Protection Tax Law that came into effect on January 1 this year. The law seeks to encourage environment-friendly production models for high-quality economic development, and relates to air, water, solid waste and noise pollution. This new law replaces the pollutant discharge fees that used to be collected by the local environmental protection departments, of which the central government used to take a 10 percent share. The new regime is expected to hit businesses in China quite drastically. For instance, polluters nationwide will face a levy of between 1.2 yuan (US$ 0.18) and 12 yuan (US$ 1.8) for every 0.95 kilogram of nitrogen oxide or sulphur dioxide they release. Kenneth Leung, Ernst & Young’s Greater China’s indirect tax leader, said the “fee to tax” shift could cost some large state-owned businesses in the chemicals and energy sector 40 per cent to 300 per cent more than they were paying under the previous system.  Since the pharmaceutical industry is a major polluter in China, it too may have to cough up huge amounts of the green tax, which in turn would increase the drug prices. Similarly, the new environment tax may spike up petrochemical prices this year as production cost is projected to increase. The Environmental Protection Tax Law Implementation Regulation was announced by the China’s cabinet on December 27, 2017. The law was passed by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee in 2016. The Chinese government is also exploring the possibility of taxing other pollutants, including carbon dioxide.  According to a Reuters report, companies in China accused of violating environmental regulations paid fines to the tune of US$ 154 million (1.02 billion yuan) in the first 10 months of 2017, up 48 percent from a year earlier. In April last year, around 70 percent of companies visited by inspectors over two weeks were found to be violating environmental rules, China’s environmental authority said. In 2017, China set large reduction targets for the concentration of air pollutants. And in September 2017, a news report said 12, 000 officials were disciplined and 18, 000 companies punished in China’s sweeping crackdown against pollution.
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