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China's Parliament Endorses Government Work Report
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China's parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC), on Friday endorsed the government work report delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao that underlines the people's livelihood and sets the economic growth target at about 8 percent for this year.


Premier Wen's report was approved with 2,862 votes from the 2,889 NPC deputies present at the closing meeting of the parliament's annual session.


Wen said in the report that the most important task of the government this year is to promote sound and fast economic development, with the growth of gross domestic product (GDP) projected at 8 percent, lower than the staggering 10.7 percent in 2006, which analyst say would be conducive to healthy economic development in the country.


President Hu Jintao and other top leaders also attended the closing meeting, presided over by NPC Standing Committee Chairman Wu Bangguo.


Prior to the ratification, the State Council, or cabinet, made 33 modifications, including 12 major ones, to the report according to the opinions of parliament members and political advisors.


The Chinese government promised to spend 391.7 billion yuan (US$50.25 billion) on agriculture, rural areas and farmers this year, as it vows to develop modern agriculture and build a new countryside.


To ensure all citizens share the fruits of China's reform and open-up, Wen said the government will expand the subsistence allowance system to all rural poor, with an aim to bring some 23.7 million poverty-stricken people under the social security net this year.


"We need to make education a strategic priority and accelerate the development of all types of education at all levels," said the premier.


The government is expected to invest 85.85 billion yuan (US$11 billion) in this field this year, an increase of 41.7 percent over 2006.


The premier reiterated that the government will meet the energy saving and pollution control targets between 2006 and 2010 despite last year's setback.


The government set the goal of reducing energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 percent and major pollutants discharge by 10 percent in the country's 11th Five-Year Plan for the 2006-2010 period.


A major task of the government to improve the people's livelihood is to promote medical services in rural areas. To energetically promote the new type of rural cooperative medical care system, the government will expand the trial of the services "cover over 80 percent of all counties, county-level cities and city districts in China," the premier said.


For this purpose, the government will allocate a total of 10.1 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion) this year, 5.8 billion yuan (US$750 million) more than last year.


"We will improve the mechanism for setting the RMB exchange rate, strengthen and improve foreign exchange administration, and actively explore and develop channels and means for appropriately using state foreign exchange reserves," Wen said, adding, "We will adopt a variety of measures to gradually ease the imbalance in international payments."


In the government work report, which covers every facet of the country's economic and social development, Wen said "building a solid national defense system and a powerful people's army is a strategic task in socialist modernization."


According the draft 2007 budget, which was also passed along with the annual plan for economic and social development, defense budget of China will increase by 17.8 percent to 350.92 billion yuan (US$44.94 billion).


The NPC annual session, which began on March 5, also approved the property law and enterprise income tax law, as well as resolutions on the election of NPC deputies on the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao.


Lawmakers attending the annual session also adopted the reports on the work of China's Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate.


(Xinhua News Agency March 16, 2007)

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