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China to Further Reform Grain Distribution System
The Chinese government has worked out a series of new measures to further reform the grain distribution system in a bid to ensure that the country has enough food and that farmers see higher earnings, according to Chinese Vice Premier Wen Jiabao.

The Vice Premier made the remarks at a national conference on the grain work, which was convened in Beijing on Monday.

"Through the reform, we hope that grain purchase and sales, as well as grain prices can be decided by the market, while the country maintains a sufficient grain production capacity and a stronger grain reserve system," Wen noted.

The Chinese government has taken a series of measures in this regard since 1998, including price protection of major varieties of grain, improvement of the mix of grain production, enhancement of government's macro-control system, and reform of state-owned enterprises engaged in grain purchase and marketing.

Wen told the conference that the central government has formulated four guidelines for deepening the reform.

The first involves the opening of grain marketing areas. The government will allow grain prices in major grain marketing areas, including Zhejiang, Shanghai, Fujian, Guangdong, Hainan, Jiangsu, Beijing and Tianjin, to fluctuate in line with market supply and demand.

This is aimed at restructuring the agriculture sector in those areas, and helping grain prices to rise in grain growing regions.

Second, protection of grain growing areas will be stepped up. Grain production and its economic returns will be ensured in major grain growing areas in China to protect farmers' interests.

"This is the key to ensuring the country's food supply and giving full play to the comparative advantage in grain growing areas," said the Vice Premier.

Third, the responsibility system of provincial governments will be tightened. Local government officials should take full responsibility over local grain production and distribution.

The State Council plans to improve the grain risk fund system to render more administrative freedom and decision-making power to local governments, Wen disclosed.

Fourth, the state will further enhance the functioning of its macro-control system. The central government will exercise blanket control over the grain distribution system, by protecting grain prices, establishing risk funds and improving the grain reserve system.

China will step up efforts in the construction of grain reserve warehouses as well as the information network, while increasing supervision of the market entry of grain marketing enterprises, Wen noted.

"The reform is to consolidate the achievements of the reform obtained since 1998. It has long-term, significant bearing on China's development," said Wen.

The Vice Premier urged government officials at various levels to give priority to the task to ensure the success of the reform.

(Xinhua 08/22/2001)

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