It will be a crime for companies in China to withhold wages if a draft amendment of the country's Criminal Law, currently being discussed by China's top legislature, is adopted.
Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), presides over the first plenary meeting of the 19th session of the Standing Committee of the 11th NPC in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 23, 2011. (Xinhua/Fan Rujun)
The draft is undergoing its third reading by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) this week.
The amendment and two new laws -- one on vehicle and vessel taxes and another on intangible cultural heritage (ICH) protection -- will have their final readings before going to a vote at the Standing Committee session, which opened Wednesday.
The top legislature will also deliberate on a report on the removal of the current railway minister and appointment of his replacement during the session.
Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun, 58, has been under investigation over alleged "severe violation of discipline" and removed from the post of the ministry's Communist Party chief.
During the three-day bimonthly session, lawmakers will review the draft amendment to the Criminal Law, which lays out tougher jail terms for crimes relating to the production and sale of toxic and harmful food.
The amendment makes a crime of intentionally defaulting on employees' pay and proposes fines for organizations holding counterfeit invoices.
If the amendment is passed, it will bring about the first reduction in the number of crimes subject to the death penalty since the People's Republic of China enacted its Criminal Law in 1979.
Sixty-eight crimes are currently punishable by the death penalty, but the amendment would reduce that number by 13.
During the session, lawmakers will review for a second time the draft law on vehicle and vessel taxation, which is aimed at standardizing taxation and promoting environmental awareness and energy efficiency.
The first plenary meeting of the 19th session of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) is held in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 23, 2011. (Xinhua/Fan Rujun)
China's 199 million vehicles are currently subject only to a regulation on vehicle and vessel tax that took effect in 2007.
According to the draft law, taxes on vehicles with engines smaller than 2.0 liters, which account for 87 percent of China's cars, will be reduced and vehicle owners should submit tax certificates in order to qualify for a road-worthiness certificate.
At its first reading by the top legislature in October last year, the draft proposed raising taxes on energy-intensive and highly-polluting cars and vessels, but this proposal was cut from the draft.
The draft law would also impose a yacht tax set in accordance with the length of vessel.
The draft law on ICH protection will require foreign nationals to obtain government approval before conducting surveys of ICH in China.
The draft includes a definition of ICH, mechanisms for ICH surveys, regulation of the inheritance of ICH, and penalties for its destruction.
At Wednesday's meeting, which was presided over by top legislator Wu Bangguo, the Standing Committee considered a series of work documents to be submitted to the Fourth Session of the 11th NPC, which is scheduled to open on March 5.
The lawmakers reviewed a draft report on the work of the 11th NPC Standing Committee, the draft agenda of the fourth session of the 11th NPC, nominations for the presidium, secretary-general and non-voting delegates of the NPC session.
A total of 156 NPC Standing Committee members, including Wu Bangguo, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, as well as other vice chairpersons of the NPC Standing Committee attended the meeting.Source: Xinhuahttp://paper.people.com.cn/rmrb/html/2011-02/24/nw.D110000renmrb_20110224_1-01.htm