US$18 billion projects open to all investors
( 2003-09-25 09:14) (China Daily)
A long list of multi-billion dollar urban infrastructure projects, previously monopolized by the State, are now open to all investors, the Ministry of Construction revealed Wednesday.
The list includes more than 700 projects covering urban road construction, water supply, gas and heating systems and waste treatment in most medium and large cities nationwide. About 150 billion yuan (US$18 billion) is to be earmarked for the projects.
Li Dongxu, department head of the ministry, made the list public at a three-day workshop on urban infrastructure and market forces, which started Wednesday in Beijing.
Mao Yushi, renowned economist with Beijing-based Unirule Economic Research Institute, said the announcement was a milestone, signalling the Chinese Government's determination to open its market further.
At the workshop, vice-minister of construction Qiu Baoxin called on domestic and overseas investors to become more involved in the construction and management of urban infrastructure. The sector is expected to boom as the progress in China's urbanization accelerates.
China has undergone a rapid urbanization in recent years, with 37.7 per cent of its population living in cities and towns by the end of 2002, 7 percentage points higher than in 1998. China has 662 cities and 20,358 towns, with a total urban population of 481 million.
And during the next 20 years, its towns and cities are expected to grow by around 1.5 per cent a year. "China's future urbanization requires a market-orientated approach and all businesses are now free to invest in urban public infrastructure formerly monopolized by the State," said Qiu.
These sectors, such as urban road construction, water supply, gas and heating systems and waste treatment, are currently operated mainly by State-owned enterprises.
"With regard to non-profitable sectors, such as environmental protection and sanitation, we are going to organize a bidding process to attract better-suited operators," said Qiu.
Qiu's ministry, which is responsible for planning China's urbanization, and city and town construction and management, has been involved in the opening up of urban infrastructure since last year.
Li Dongxu told China Daily yesterday that his ministry is busy drafting various reforms in China's urban infrastructure construction and management.
"Many practices, based on the old planned economy, are becoming barriers to cities' further development," said Li.
He said State-owned enterprises "are inefficient and some local governments cannot invest enough to keep up with the fast urbanization process."
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