High development cost, the imbalance between rural and urban areas and a lack of talents are obstacles for Tibet's future development, said a report published Monday by the Beijing-based China Tibetology Research Center.
Despite the achievements in economic, social and sustainable development over the past decades, the region in southwest China still faces many difficulties and challenges, said the report on Tibet's economic and social development.
Due to the remote and harsh geographic location, Tibet's overall price level was usually 50 percent higher than the national average, while the "economic development cost" was 70 percent higher, it said.
It means a commodity that costs one yuan (0.15 U.S. dollars) in the inland areas sells for more than 1.5 yuan in Tibet, and a matter that costs one yuan to solve requires more than 1.7 yuan in Tibet.
"Tremendous social barriers", especially the negative impact brought about by separatist forces, were also a great challenge to the development of Tibet, it said.
Last year's March 14 Lhasa riot exerted a detrimental effect on the previously booming tourism sector, which has been recovering as the situation stabilized, the report said.
Though the urban-rural wealth gap in Tibet was narrowing over the past few years, the problem remained "more conspicuous than in other regions of China," it said.
The urban-rural income ratio in Tibet hit 4:1 in 2007, compared with the national average of 3.3:1.
The efforts of farming and pastoral households to transfer surplus laborers to other industries were contained by comparatively low educational background and underdeveloped skills of human resources in the region.
Surplus laborers in the farming and stock breeding areas were hard to be transferred, and the already transferred mostly undertook jobs that did not require high technical skills, normally with low payment, according to the report.
The average years of education people received in Tibet were 6.3 years in 2008, much lower than the national average of 8.5 years.
In 2008, 94 and 67 out of every 10,000 people in Tibet received higher and secondary education, respectively, far lower than the national corresponding figures of 192 and 198.
The report expected a bright prospect in Tibet's economic and social development boosted by the central fiscal support, investment and local consumption demand.
Despite the impact of March 14 Lhasa incident, fixed assets investment in Tibet hit 9.01 billion yuan in first half year in 2008, up 9.2 percent year-on-year, according to the report.
According to a five-year plan of the Tibet Autonomous Region, the central government would finance the region nearly 80 billion yuan in 2009 and 2010, it said.
The stimulation of investment, local demand and consumption are giving an increasingly stronger impetus to Tibet's economic development.
In 2008, the per capita net income of farmers and herdsmen in Tibet exceeded 3,000 yuan for the first time, it said.
A survey conducted by the center last year on 100 households in the farming and pastoral areas in Tibet showed 30 percent of the households planned to build new houses and 5 percent were thinking of purchasing automobiles in the next five years.
And nearly 60 percent households surveyed planned to buy mobile phones in one or two years, 15 percent were going to buy motorcycles in the next three years, and 20 percent had plans to buy a tractor, it said.
(Xinhua News Agency March 31, 2009)