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Billions More Needed to Protect Environment

About 1.3 trillion yuan (US$157 billion) will be needed for environmental protection in the period of the 11th Five-Year Plan, a ranking official in the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) announced on Tuesday.


The amount for the years 2006 to 2010 is a huge increase over the budget for the 10th Five-Year Plan, which is about 700 billion yuan (US$84.6 billion).


Speaking at a two-day international seminar on environmental protection financing that opened Tuesday in Beijing, Chen Bin, vice director of SEPA's Planning and Financing Department, admitted that targeted sum for investment from 2001-05 will not be met.


By the end of 2002, about 28 percent of the 229.7 billion yuan (US$27.8 billion) planned for key pollution control has not been realized.


Despite rises in the past two years, Chen said, actual investment will not be more than 70 percent of the planned total by the end of the year.


Priority will be given now to capacity building for environment supervision and management, treatment of hazardous waste and urban sewage and rubbish, and desulfurization of coal-burning power plants, according to Chen.


Chen's office is now preparing the draft of the country's five-year environmental protection plan for the 2006–2010 period. They expect investment in environmental protection during the period to be 1.4 to 1.5 percent of gross domestic product.


According to Chen, a nation in a stage of rapid economic development needs to allocate at least 1.0 to 1.5 percent of GDP to getting pollution under control, but only when investment reaches 3 percent of GDP can a country improve its environment quality noticeably.


At Tuesday's seminar, Xia Guang, director of SEPA's Policy Research Center, suggested that the government offer help to small and medium-sized companies with their financing for pollution control.


According to Xia, such companies contribute to half of the nation's industrial pollution.


(China Daily March 30, 2005)

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