Netizens mock failure to curb house prices
Updated: 2007-02-06 19:53 Widespread mockery of an
alleged promise by the Ministry of Construction (MOC) to punish local
authorities if they fail to curb soaring housing prices has been dominating a
leading Chinese Internet forum.
The Beijing-based China Economic Weekly,
affiliated to the People's Daily, the Party's newspaper, reported in its latest
issue that the ministry would monitor the extent to which local governments
implement central government macro-control policies in mapping out housing
construction plans in the first quarter of this year.
According to the
report, the ministry vowed to hold local authorities accountable in cities where
housing prices were spiraling out of control, small-and medium-sized homes fail
to make up 70 percent of new housing and many problems remain unsolved in
resettlement of residents. Plans to develop low-rent apartments which are
affordable to low-income families would also be examined by the ministry, it
However, the seemingly good news did not gain public favor when it
was posted on China's biggest portal website Sina.com in the early hours of
Monday morning, drawing over 1,200 online comments in 12 hours, with the vast
majority of them ridiculing the ministry's promise.
"The problem is not
how to prevent housing prices from rocketing, but when to force them down," said
one Internet user.
"Don't blame local authorities once they fail to stop
the prices rising. Bring them to account now; otherwise the ministry is not
serious," said another.
It is widely believed the reason why low-income
families have limited access to affordable housing is that some local
governments rely on the lucrative property industry to bolster their
Housing prices in 70 major Chinese cities rose an average 5.5
percent last year despite measures being taken in the second half to curb the
price hike, including higher taxes on urban land use and depriving local
governments of the right to spend the money from land sales.
home to the fastest growth in house prices with a rise of 10.4
Other Sina.com users accused the MOC of trying to pass the
"The ministry has no right to bring a local government to account -
it should not shirk responsibility," said a forum user.
The MOC told
Xinhua amid growing grumbles that the report was not accurate, saying blaming
and demanding an explanation from a local government goes beyond the ministry's
"The problem will not be solved unless the government taxes
people possessing more than one apartment heavily, cracks down on speculation on
the property market and requires property developers to make their construction
costs known to buyers," said another.
All this involves government
agencies like the State Administration of Taxation, the National Development and
Reform Commission and the MOC to make real efforts to curb the price hike.
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