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China approves Wuhan reform plan
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The State Council, China's cabinet, has approved the main points of a Comprehensive Reform Program proposed by Hubei Province to build up a Wuhan Metropolitan Area (WMA). The reform program is one of the most ambitious regional development plan emphasizing resource efficiency and environment protection.

According to a 21st Century Business Herald report on September 18, the State Council will give necessary fiscal and financial policy support to the implementation of the reform program.

According to the program, the Wuhan Metropolitan Area, centered in the provincial capital city of Wuhan, will include eight other medium- and small-sized cities – Huangshi, Ezhou, Huanggang, Xiaogan, Tianmen, Qianjiang, Xiantao and Xianning – within a radius of 100 kilometers to form the largest city group along the middle reaches of the Yangtze River.

Economic and technological development zone of Wuhan

Economic and technological development zone of Wuhan 

Environmental measures

The program includes an arable land restitution policy, under which enterprises or individuals who use farmland for non-agricultural purposes are obliged to reclaim arable land of equivalent size and quality.

Under the proposal as approved by the State Council, Wuhan will also draw up environmental compensation regulations, and carry out major environmental restoration work along the middle and lower reaches of the Hanjiang River, a tributary of the Yangtze.

The program also includes other important environmental protection measures such as setting up an environmental monitoring center and an information-sharing platform within the WMA.

Resource tax and financial policies

According to the program, a resource tax will be introduced on an experimental basis.

The Wuhan Commercial Bank is encouraged to develop into a regional commercial bank. There are also plans to set up the Wuhan OVC Bank in Wuhan East Lake High-tech Development Zone, also called the Optics Valley of China (OVC), a rural cooperative bank or a rural commercial bank. New types of insurance such as environment responsibility insurance will be introduced as part of the financial reforms.

High tech base at Wuhan OVC

High tech base at Wuhan OVC

The Wuhan Metropolitan Area has also been given permission to issue municipal bonds and energy-saving bonds, and to establish a new technology capital fund in cooperation with local commercial banks.

The State Council has required the establishment of a highly efficient inter-government coordination mechanism for the effective implementation of the reform program. Joint meetings and communications at various levels are urged to break administrative barrier and make unified plans for the development of the area.

(China.org.cn by Xiang Bin, September 19, 2008)

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