Cold shower [Bty Jiao Haiyang/China.org.cn]
Municipalities in China would do well to resist the temptation to try to circumvent central government property curbs this year, no matter how important real estate is to their local economies.
Premier Wen Jiabao told about 3,000 lawmakers at the annual meeting of the National People's Congress in Beijing on Monday that his government will proceed with efforts to impose property curbs and ensure strict enforcement until home prices drop to affordable levels on a sustainable basis.
A few days earlier, Wang Juelin, vice director of theMinistry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development's policy research center, also dismissed speculation of a possible loosening in austerity measures in 2012. The hard line taken by central authorities isn't welcome news to local government officials from areas where real estate development has been a pillar of growth. But it appears they have little choice but to accede.
Representatives from across the country are in Beijing for the dual meetings of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference from March 3 to 14. High on their agenda are issues related to the well-being of citizens, such as housing, food safety and environment protection.
Speculation about a relaxation in tough property measures was fueled by some signs of intermittent easing in some parts of the country. But they proved illusionary.
For example, in mid-February, the Shanghai Securities News reported that Shanghai would stretch its definition of "local" families eligible to buy a second home to households that have held residency permits for at least three years. A week later, municipal officials issued a clarification. It said only those holding permanent residence permits would be eligible to buy a second home.
In the confusion, a local housing authority official seemed to suggest that eligibility had always been extended to those with residency permits of at least three years. That left developers and realty agents scratching their heads. They said they had never heard of that policy before. Whatever the truth of the matter, the city's clarification has signaled that the central government curbs will be enforced to the letter in Shanghai.