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Brakes put on frenzied investment
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The central government yesterday pressed provincial and local officials to curb rampant investment and control new projects amid fears of economic overheating and higher inflation.


At a national televised conference, National Development and Reform Commission minister Ma Kai said China's fixed investment growth rate had been too high and that investment approval processes lacked consistency.


"There are too many new projects, and investment in energy-intensive and pollution sectors are still too high," Ma said.


"All the trends can deteriorate our economic stability."


Ma said the cabinet departments of land, environment and economic planning would strengthen efforts to implement China's industry and investment policies.


One of the package measures requires local government to document new projects on a designated website when the amount invested exceeds more than 50 million yuan (US$7 million).


"We need the public to be involved to supervise our approval process," Ma said.


China's fixed asset investment rose to 9.15 trillion yuan (US$1.2 trillion) in the first nine months of 2007, up 25.7 percent on the same period last year.


For the first 11 months of this year, fixed investment in urban regions increased 26.8 percent.


During January-November, 211,000 new projects were launched, up 24,124 on the previous year.


Overall investment in new projects for the same period reached 7.36 trillion yuan (US$100 billion), a 28 percent increase.


"A lot of pressures have been gathering and they have added to the difficulties in cooling down the investment spree," said Luo Guosan, an official in charge of fixed asset investment with Ma's commission.


He said the investment spree had been mainly spurred by provincial and local government decisions.


Yesterday's televised conference was part of a series of meetings to implement decisions made at the annual central economic conference this month.


China's leaders have made it clear that curbing economic overheating and inflation is their highest economic priority.


The leadership also stressed the urgent need to shift development from a resources-intensive mode to a green growth track, with an emphasis on energy efficiency and environment protection.


(China Daily December 26, 2007)

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