China pledges to accelerate rural development
Updated: 2005-12-30 18:18
"The weak status of agriculture has not changed yet," conceded China's
Minister of Agriculture Du Qinglin.
Government statistics show that rural residents, who account for some 60
percent of the nation's total population, only have access to 20 percent of the
country's medical resources. Farmers are in the similar inferior position in
education and social security.
"It is imperative to increase investment for the building of a new socialist
countryside," said Zhang Hanya, a research fellow with the National Development
and Reform Commission.
He said "money" is a word underlined at the latest meeting and this would
help promote the implementation of related policies.
Yet, how to guarantee the best use of the investment remains a problem to be
resolved, the expert warned. According to Han, only one fifth of the money the
government previously allocated went tofarmers, with the rest being used
Apart from direct financial support, China has announced the abolition of the
2,600-year-old agricultural tax as of Jan. 1, 2006, which totals 22 billion yuan
(2.75 billion dollars) every year.
Follow-up measures would be taken to push forward reforms in the rural areas
based on the tax reform, the central work meeting said.
Reform should go further in the rural financial system, said Tang Min, chief
economist of Asian Development Bank in China.
Government statistics show that farmers save more but borrow less from
financial institutions in the rural areas. It is hard for them to get loans due
to out-of-date financial mechanisms.
"Only when farmers could borrow money, would the countryside bemore
productive," said Tang.