Premier Wen Jiabao promised Monday to spend more on boosting
incomes in China's poor countryside and protecting the environment
as he announced budget plans for 2007.
The government also will maintain controls meant to contain a
surge in housing prices, Wen said in a speech at the opening of the
annual session of China's legislature.
China's leaders must "safeguard social fairness and justice and
ensure that all of the people share in the fruits of reform and
development," Wen said.
Total spending by China's central governments will rise 14.4
percent to 2.7 trillion yuan (US$335 billion; euro265 billion), Wen
The premier announced an economic growth target of 8 percent,
well below last year's expansion rate of 10.7 percent, amid efforts
to avert a runaway expansion.
In the countryside, spending on agriculture, schools, medical
clinics and other programs will rise by 15 percent to 391.7 billion
yuan (US$51 billion; euro39 billion), Wen announced.
"Agriculture, the base of the economy, remains weak, and it is
now more difficult than ever to steadily increase grain production
and keep rural incomes growing," he said.
The government will promote environmental protection and energy
efficiency by shutting down small power plants and antiquated
facilities in the steel, cement and aluminum industries, Wen
Chinese leaders are trying to improve energy efficiency to
reduce both environmental damage and China's reliance on imported
oil, which they see as a strategic weakness.
China is one of the world's biggest consumers of oil and coal,
and uses several times as much energy per unit of economic output
as the United States, Japan and other countries.
Wen gave no specifics of conservation efforts, but said the
government will use market forces, pricing and taxes "to promote
energy saving and environmental protection."
The premier warned that China still faces strains from the
financial imbalances caused by its surging trade surplus and excess
liquidity in its financial system. But he announced no new trade
(China Daily via AP, March 5, 2007)