'Second reform' of housing system yet to come
A "second reform" of China's real estate system has been suggested by many experts since June last year. It is reported that Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development has started investigation and research on the hits and misses of the 10-year housing reform, aiming at the next stage of housing reform.
Now it is apparent the second reform of housing system is to come. The questions now are what the reform is and how to make it. As I see it, policies on the housing issue have gravely lagged behind the development of real estate market. Hence, reform should be on the following fronts.
First, the rules of land transfer should be modified. Now a large portion of the municipal governments' revenues is from the auction of land to real estate developers. Hence, land prices are very high, driving up housing prices beyond the reach of many. The current rules are not sustainable.
Second, the government should clarify the range of welfare housing and provide more welfare housing. More low-rent houses should be built and offered to poorer families. Middle-income families, too, should be included into welfare housing projects.
Third, the regulations governing the real estate market should be explicit, and the responsibilities of governments at different levels clear. Now the roles and responsibilities of the authorities and realty developers are rather messed up. Hence, it is necessary to streamline the administration of the real estate sector.
Every reform needs courage and wisdom. And successful reforms should go far, for the sake of the people and their needs.
Proper implementation is most critical
Comment on "Chinese Ivy League?" (Page 8, Oct 21, China Daily)
The editorial "Chinese Ivy League?" is right to praise the formation of the C9. As a student who had studied at one of the universities, I have a few first-hand experiences about the flaws in the college education. It was almost impossible to transfer between universities, especially to "better" ones. It was possible to transfer between school and department, but the threshold was high and the quota was low. Even within a school or department, students sometimes found it hard to obtain credit points from the seminars of other specialities.
Now we have seen a great progress that the C9 universities have agreed on mutual credit recognition and student exchanges. If the policies are implemented properly, it would be a great boon for college students. However, the most critical point is not good intention or good plan, but proper implementation. The rules of mutual credit recognition and student exchanges should be specific, transparent and fair, to avoid rent-seeking and corruption. The process should not be clumsy and bureaucratic.
I hope the C9 would not become a totally exclusive group and could accept new members when the time is ripe.
(China Daily 10/22/2009 page8)