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Guangdong in Bid to Remove Power, Labor Shortages

Shortages in power, coal and labor have come under scrutiny as Guangdong Province draws up a plan to ease the situation.

The shortages have become the main constraints on the south Chinese province's economy, says Chen Bing, director of the Guangdong Provincial Economic and Trade Commission.

Peak-period power capacity, estimated to increase by about 13 percent this year, is still expected to fall short of demand by more than 400 million kilowatts this year, said Chen Shanru, director of the Guangdong Provincial Development and Reform Commission.

The capacity grew by 16.8 percent to 39.7 million kilowatts last year, when the economy expanded by 14.2 percent.

Transporting raw materials such as coal into the province is expected to be tight.

Total power supply is expected to fall short of demand by 23.7 billion kilowatt hours.

Power supply increased by 16.7 percent to 249.5 billion kilowatt-hours and consumption went up by 17.5 percent to 238.68 billion kilowatt-hours last year.

Guangdong authorities are aiming this year to ensure there are no large-scale, lengthy blackouts, no cessation in power generation because of a lack of fuel, and a secure power supply to residents to the greatest possible extent, said Chen Bing.

The problems are being met in a number of ways.

Guangdong will speed up the construction of power projects, seek more power supply from electricity-rich western provinces and increase the amount of power it buys from Hong Kong, he said.

The province will continue to adopt rationing and off-peak usage schemes to ensure supply to residents and key sectors.

Guangdong will continue to save resources by drawing up rules to restrict the development of industries, which have a high resource consumption, produce waste and pollution, and use up a lot of resources, said Chen Shanru. Director of the Guangdong Labor and Social Security Bureau Fang Chaogui said Guangdong is facing a "structural shortage of labor."

The shortage is seen in manufacturing positions offering monthly pay of less than 500 yuan (US$60), in workers aged between 18 and 25, in female workers in some service sectors and in technical workers, he said.

The shortage has resulted from improved conditions in rural areas, the fact that pay is too low, and that many of those aged between 18 and 25 are the only children in their families.

Fang said monthly pay between 700 yuan (US$84) and 1,000 yuan (US$120) for common positions was largely acceptable and those offering more than 1,000 yuan had no difficulty in hiring workers.

Guangdong will offer more training opportunities in its rural areas.

(China Daily January 25, 2005)

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