Scrapping agricultural taxes by next year was one of the many features of Premier Wen Jiabao's government work report yesterday that won kudos from nearly 3,000 national lawmakers and foreign diplomats.
For Chinese farmers who have for centuries been paying taxes based on the number of their family members and crop-land acreage, the news is welcome relief.
"Agricultural tax will be exempted throughout the country next year, which means what had been targeted for five years will be achieved in just three years," Wen told lawmakers of the 10th NPC and members of the 10th National Committee of CPPCC.
Xu Dequan, an NPC deputy from Central China's Henan Province, said: "I hope the government will continue with its supportive measures so that farmers can have bulging wallets and a better life."
NPC deputy Xing Kezhi from Tianjin said: "It is vital to take care of the issues of agriculture, rural areas and farmers in order to build a harmonious society."
"If farmers' income does not increase and the wealth gap between urban and rural regions keeps widening, it would be unfavorable to social stability and sustained growth."
During the report delivered at the opening session of the current NPC, Wen offered a wide range of measures to improve people's livelihood, promote more balanced development and build a harmonious society.
"Since he took up his post in 2003, the premier has been making pledges which he has been fulfilling," said Zhu Shanping, an NPC deputy from East China's Jiangsu Province. "This makes us feel more confident about the government."
Serge Abou, the European Union ambassador to China, said the work report was very extensive for it not only reviewed the work done in the past year but also forecasts the state of the nation's major projects in 2005.
The concept of a harmonious society covers a wide range of topics, including the economic growth and government responsibility, he said.
"As for me, I am more concerned with global issues like energy efficiency, the environment and the prevention of disease," said the ambassador after attending the NPC meeting. He added that he was very satisfied with the good intentions of the Chinese Government on those matters and had "confidence in their implementation."
(China Daily March 6, 2005)