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$19b more for quake-hit Sichuan
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The central government will spend an additional 130 billion yuan (US$19 billion) to reconstruct quake-ravaged areas in Sichuan province, Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday.

"The restoration and reconstruction of rural houses in the quake zone will be accelerated to ensure that all affected people move into their new houses by the end of this year," Wen said in his government report at the opening ceremony of the second session of the 11th National People's Congress.

He added that the government will speed up the reconstruction of schools, too. "More than 95 percent of the students will be studying in permanent school buildings by the end of this year," he said.

After last year's May 12 earthquake, which killed nearly 70,000 people in Wenchuan county, Sichuan province, the central government allocated 70 billion yuan to set up the post-quake restoration and reconstruction fund.

The investment went in reconstructing rural houses, schools, hospitals, government offices, institutions, roads, water reservoirs etc, said Xie Xuren, the minister of finance.

After the premier announced the government's plan to pump in more money for post-quake reconstruction projects, Sichuan's deputies to the current NPC session said they were confident all rural houses destroyed in the quake will be reconstructed soon.

"At the end of last year, more than 560,000 rural houses were rebuilt. We will finish reconstructing the remaining houses by September," said Governor Jiang Jufeng.

More than 1 million houses in the southwest China province were destroyed in the magnitude-8 earthquake that left more than 5 million people homeless.

The province will offer subsidies, loans and technical guidance to the farmers, and ensure the supply of quality construction material, the governor said.

Also, on the provincial government's agenda for this year is the reconstruction of 2,811 schools and 1,167 hospitals, before the end of this year, said Liu Jie, chief of the provincial development and reform commission.

Last year, Sichuan kicked off more than 8,400 reconstruction projects, while more than 97 percent of its quake-affected industrial enterprises resumed production, he said.

The province will start reconstructing its roads, finish repairing more than 1,000 reservoirs, and complete reconstruction of sapling bases with an area of 7,600 hectares in 2009, Jiang said.

By the end of 2010, Sichuan would have invested 1.7 trillion yuan in post-quake reconstruction, he said.

Besides rebuilding quake-ravaged areas, the hefty investment aims to boost the province's economy in the face of the global financial crisis, the governor said.

(China Daily March 6, 2009)

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