Pledge to build 36m low-cost houses

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China will build a total of 36 million affordable houses over the next five years, a senior official said yesterday.

Some 10 million affordable houses will be built this year and next, while another 16 million will go up in the three-year period ending in 2015, Xu Xianping, vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top planning body, told a press conference during the National People's Congress in Beijing yesterday.

Land for the homes to be built this year will be settled this month, according to Land Minister Xu Shaoshi.

Plots designated for affordable houses will be listed separately from the overall land supply plans drafted by local governments so as to better guarantee their implementation, Xu said.

Last year, around 3.7 million affordable houses - which mainly include budget homes, houses for relocated residents under urbanization programs as well as low rent/public rent apartments - were completed across the country, compared to an earlier target of 5.8 million units.

"2010 was the first year local governments were asked to draft a land supply plan for affordable houses and many set too high a target," said Xu. "Meanwhile, the fact that local governments were still gaining experience in the affordable housing programs caused delays in either project planning or capital funding."

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