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Housing prices, poor healthcare top 'gripes' list
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08:55, January 09, 2008

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Apartment rentals and medical services were the top two gripes last year for people here, according to an urban consumer satisfaction index released yesterday.

The Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE) published the index in a bid to provide a reliable barometer of macroeconomic performance and consumer satisfaction.

Among the sub-indices reflecting Shanghai consumers' satisfaction levels in different categories of products and services, inner city transportation also ranked low.

On the flip side, residents felt most satisfied with private cars and TV programs.

Experts said rising apartment rental prices and the lack of a well-established mechanism for supervising the market were the major reasons for consumers' dissatisfaction. Many consumers have complained of being cheated by property agencies when renting an apartment.

A less mature rental market means people will always have difficulty finding a reasonably priced home, they said.

Consumers also complained of the high prices and scarce resources of medical services, the study showed.

"Most people rush to the nearest, largest public hospital when they get ill," Xia Tian, a 35-year-old woman who works for a State-owned company, said.

"But their monopoly makes hospitals reluctant to cut prices or improve services," she said.

Despite the low levels of satisfaction regarding inner city transportation, the study showed that some people have benefited from the upgraded facilities.

Cheng Yu, a 38-year-old engineer who works at an IT company, said: "We feel happy that more districts of the city are connected by subways, but we hope the expansion will gain momentum."

Economists and experts said Shanghai's fast-developing private car market is also providing a wider range of choices for consumers.

Stiff competition among different brands is also leading to lower prices.

Similarly, consumers have responded positively to the increasing number of TV programs catering to a growing number of viewers.

The index has been widely seen as a useful supplement to government statistics.

Cai Xuchu, chief economist of the Shanghai municipal statistics bureau, said: "The consumer satisfaction index and its sub-indices not only provide helpful information for research, but also guidance for the government to take macroeconomic measures to boost sound and steady economic development."

Source: China Daily

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