S. Korea to repeal 2 tln won worth of quasi-taxes to ease public burdens

SEOUL, South Korea plans to abolish or reduce government fees and charges regarding electricity use, overseas visits, cinema tickets and other things to ease tax burdens on the people and promote corporate activities, the finance ministry said Wednesday. The country has 91 kinds of state fees and charges in various sectors that amount to about 22.4 trillion won (US$16.65 billion) combined a year, and the planned revision of 36 items of the total is expected to reduce the amount by around 2 trillion won annually, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance. It is the first time that the government moved to revise the regulation since the implementation of relevant laws in 2002, which was meant to reflect "changing social and economic circumstances," it added. Government charges are often deemed as quasi-taxes as the people are supposed to pay them unwittingly when they engage in specific public services and projects. Under the plan, the government will repeal 18 kinds of fees and reduce the amount fo r 14 additional items. It has already been working on reforming four other types of charges since January. In detail, the 3 percent fee for cinema entry will be abolished, which is expected to reduce the price of a cinema ticket by 500 won. The government plans to reduce the rate of the power industry-related fee to 2.7 percent in phases from the current 3.7 percent. It is charged for electricity rates, and the envisioned cut is expected to help reduce the rates for a four-member household by 8,000 won per year. The fee for departure, which is included in airfare, will be lowered by 4,000 won. Other charges to be revised include those regarding land development, corporate waste disposal and facilities and infrastructure use. Part of the revision will be implemented starting July, the ministry said, adding that it will submit a revised bill to the National Assembly for some items that require parliamentary approval. "The government will continue to check the validity of the remaining 69 items. We will al so introduce a feasibility study when creating new ones," Second Vice Finance Minister Kim Yoon-sang told reporters. Source: Yonhap News Agency