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Premier Pledges to Boost Rural Living Standards
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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has renewed his pledges to boost agricultural development and improve the welfare of the nation's farmers.

On a visit to eastern Jiangxi Province from Friday to Sunday, Wen said the government would continue to raise subsidies for farmers and bring them tangible benefits.

He said the government would continue to buy grain at prices no lower than last year and was considering offering more subsidies for production materials to ensure no decline in farmers' incomes.

The government cancelled the rural tax nationwide in 2006 and offered farmers direct subsidies to boost their incomes, but rising prices of fertilizers and other production materials has eroded some of the benefits.

Wen also pledged more government spending on agricultural infrastructure and agricultural insurance that the government was piloting in a number of provinces.

In response to demands for more rural bank loans, he said the commercial banks and rural credit cooperatives were expanding their loan capacity in rural areas.

He also called local officials to make more efforts to improve farmers' incomes by establishing production bases and help the farmers sell at good prices.

He said the government would boost spending on the rural cooperative medicare system to ensure affordable medical services for farmers.

(Xinhua News Agency April 23, 2007)

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