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Premier's Top Concern: Farmers' Income Increase

Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji said that how to raise the income of farmers is his biggest concern, but the problem will be gradually resolved with agricultural restructuring.

The premier made the remark at a press conference right after the conclusion of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Friday morning.

Without price rises in the past four years, the salary of government employees is approximately doubled, the wages of workers in state-owned enterprises have been raised by a big margin at a time when stepping out of difficulties, and the income of retirees is better with the improvement of the social security system.

By contrast, the income of farmers didn't see a fast growth, and even dropped in some areas, the premier said.

The Chinese government has exerted great efforts to resolving the problem, and the premier talked a lot about agriculture and farmers in his latest government work report.

"The best way out is to push forward the restructuring of agriculture, "the premier said, explaining that the prices of farm produce cannot go up at a time when supply exceeds demand and the income of farmers cannot be raised as a result.

He added that with China's accession to the World Trade Organization, farm products from the United States will flow into China in large quantities.

China now has 250million tons of grain reserves. So the government encourages farmers to return farmlands to woodlands, grasslands and lakes in a bid to contribute to the increase of farmers' income. In addition, the fee-for-tax reform in rural areas will help lessen financial burdens on farmers, Zhu said.

"I believe that these measures will help relieve the current difficult situation farmers face," he said.

(eastday.com March 15, 2002)

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