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Xinjiang Deputies Discuss Government Work Report

Premier Wen Jiabao delivered his report on the government’s work in 2004 at the opening ceremony of the Third Session of the 10th National People’s Congress (NPC) Saturday morning. The report reviews both achievements and shortcomings in the past year and set major tasks for this year. Following Wen’s address, the 60 NPC deputies from Xinjiang gathered to comment the report.


Problems facing agriculture, rural areas and farmers remain the top priority of the deputies.


The central government spent 262.6 billion yuan (US$31.8 billion) on agriculture, rural areas and farmers in 2004, an increase of 22.5 percent. Major policies included reducing or rescinding the agricultural tax, offering direct subsidies to grain producers, providing incentives for upgrading machinery and crop varieties and setting a floor price for major grains.


Wang Lequan, the secretary of Xinjiang’s Communist Party Committee, said that after the agricultural tax reduction, every farmer in Xinjiang had been relieved of a tax burden amounting to 75 yuan (US$9).


The region will reduce the tax another three percentage points and eventually phase it out entirely. The central government will offset revenue losses to the local government.


Gao Fashui, the secretary of the Yiwu County Communist Party Committee, said, “We are encouraged since the central government emphasizes the development of the border region and is building many infrastructure projects in the rural area.”


These measures narrow the gap between urban and rural areas and boost the development of remote areas, Gao added.


Gao Tongqing, the general manager of the Xinjiang Branch of China Telecom, stated, “Our investigation shows that under the support of such policies, farmers’ consuming ability in the telecom sector in 2004 rose 1.7 percent over the previous year.”


Xinjiang is one of first regions to benefit from the government’s Action Plan for Invigorating Education, said Ismail Tiliwaldi, chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region People’s Government.


Last year, a total of 190 million yuan (about US$23.0
million), primarily from the central government, was spent on free compulsory education for impoverished students. Books, tuition and other fees are exempted, and students’ basic living costs are subsidized.


Currently, over 2.1 million students in 56 counties of Xinjiang have benefited from the policy,” Tiliwaldi said.


Tiliwaldi said that about 280 million yuan (US$33.9 million) will be allocated this year, with 200 million yuan (US$24.2 million) coming from the central government.


China’s western development strategy has had a strong impact on westernmost Xinjiang. Last year, construction on 10 key projects involving investment of 80 billion yuan (US$9.7 billion) was started.


However, Rouzi Gulibayi, the magistrate of Xinjiang Tashikuergan Tajik Autonomous County, suggested more specificity to optimize the program.


“Specific legislation should be considered to note down the effective development methods, targets and tasks,” he said.



(China.org.cn by staff reporter Tang Fuchun, March 7, 2005)

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