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Rural home appliance sales grow under subsidy program
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Home appliance sales in China's countryside has been stirred up as the government offered subsidies to rural buyers of those products to lift domestic consumption, the People's Daily reported Thursday.

In the first 20 days of January, Chinese farmers bought more than 160,000 items of home appliances on government subsidies, 90 percent of the total in December, the newspaper said, citing Ministry of Commerce (MOC) sources.

"The expansion of the subsidy program on rural purchase of home appliances has magnified the purchasing power of rural residents by seven times and gradually accelerated sales since the beginning of this year," the MOC was quoted as saying.

China began a trial program in December 2007 to grant a 13 percent subsidy to farmers who buy color TVs, refrigerators, mobile phones, washing machines and freezers.

Since then, rural sales of color TVs, refrigerators and mobile phones in three pilot provinces of Shandong, Henan and Sichuan has grown in annual rates more than 30 percentage points higher than the national average level, according to the report.

The MOC didn't give further details on the numbers. Phone calls to the ministry's press office were unanswered on Thursday.

In a move to boost rural consumption, China has decided to roll out the subsidy program nationwide from 12 provinces, or less than half of the total, at present, starting from Feb. 1.

Moreover, farmers who buy motorcycles, computers, water heaters and air conditioners will also get subsidies.

(Xinhua News Agency January 29, 2009)

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