BEIJING -- The central government of China will spend 391.7 billion yuan on
agriculture, rural areas and farmers this year, as it vows to develop modern
agriculture and promote the building of a new countryside, said Premier Wen
Jiabao in a government work report Monday.
"We will effectively shift the focus of state infrastructure development and
development of social programs to the countryside, " Wen told 2,890 lawmakers at
the opening meeting of the Fifth Session of the Tenth National People's Congress
(NPC), the top legislature.
The allocations from the central government budget will total 391.7 billion
yuan this year, an increase of 52 billion yuan over last year and 94.2 billion
yuan over the year of 2005.
Agriculture, as the base of the country's economy, remains weak, and it is
now more difficult than ever to steadily increase grain production and keep
rural incomes growing, Wen said.
The Study Times, a newspaper affiliated to the Party School of the Central
Committee of the Communist Party of China, predicted that China could face a 4.8
million ton grain shortage in 2010, almost 9 percent of the country's grain
Wen said this year's work related to agriculture, rural areas and farmers
will focus on accelerating the development of modern agriculture and effectively
promoting the building of a new socialist countryside.
A central government document released late January said developing modern
agriculture is the top priority in building a new socialist countryside.
China must strengthen government policy, funding, application of science and
technology, and reform to develop modern agriculture and promote the building of
a new countryside, the premier said.
The premier announced China will set up a nationwide basic minimum cost of
living allowance system this year for rural residents, and the trial area of the
new rural cooperative medical care system will be expanded to cover over 80
percent of all counties, county-level cities and city districts in China.
Last year, China has made "steady progress in building a new socialist
countryside" last year, according to Wen.
Despite serious natural disasters, China last year saw a rich grain harvest
with total output amounting to 497.45 billion kilograms, 13.44 billion kilograms
more than the year before.
The per capita net income for the 900 million rural residents increased 7.4
percent to 3,587 yuan last year. Safe drinking water was made available to
another 28.97 million rural people and the use of methane available to an
additional 4.5 million rural families.
The country ended the agricultural tax that had been collected on grain
farmers for more than 2,600 years, continued to increase direct subsidies to
grain farmers, and followed a policy of granting general subsidies for
agricultural production supplies.