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Rural home appliance sales surge in March on subsidy scheme
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The Ministry of Commerce said Wednesday that March sales of household appliances in rural areas surged more than 70 percent from February, as China's policy to offer subsidies to farmers for the purchase of such products began to pay off.

China started to give the country's 900 million farmers subsidies equal to 13 percent of the price of designated home appliances as of Feb. 1, in a bid to stimulate spending in rural areas.

"The country's subsidy plan has obviously paid off," the ministry spokesman Yao Jian told reporters.

A total 1.49 million sets of subsidized household appliances worth 2.24 billion yuan (329.4 million U.S. dollars) were sold to farmers in March, said Yao.

The March sales accounted for more than half of the 4 billion yuan in sales in the first quarter, according to Yao.

The subsidy program was started on a trial basis in three provinces in December 2007, covering designated brands of color TVs, refrigerators, mobile phones, washing machines and freezers.

The program was expanded nationwide in February to cover motorcycles, computers, water heaters and air conditioners.

(Xinhua News Agency April 15, 2009)

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