Commodity and housing prices to be focus of China's annual "two sessions"

15:23, March 03, 2011      

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Pedestrians pass by a real-estate agent in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 14, 2011. (Xinhua/Zhao Wanwei)

Commodity and housing prices are expected to be two of the hottest issues to be discussed by China's policy-makers and political advisors during the upcoming annual "two sessions", analysts said.

The fourth session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) and the fourth session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which are scheduled to open in Beijing on March 5 and 3 respectively, will review and approve the outline for the nation's 12th Five-Year Plan that covers the period for 2011 to 2015.

According to an online survey jointly conducted by Xinhuanet.com and Sina.com among nearly one million people surveyed as of 3:00 p.m. March 1, the top five concerns are housing prices, income distribution, inflation and commodity prices, combating corruption, and employment promotion and equal employment opportunities.

COOLING HOUSING PRICES

China's housing prices have been climbing steeply since June 2009, fueled by record bank lending and tax breaks. The monthly year-on-year growth rate hit a record 12.8 percent in April last year.

To cool the market, the Chinese government this year issued a new package of policies that include purchasing restrictions, property taxes, and the increasing availability of government-subsidized flats.

More than a dozen Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin, have capped the number of apartments a family can buy, making it difficult for non-residents to buy apartments for investment.

Housing prices were still rising, with prices of new properties in 68 of 70 major cities up from one year earlier in January.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, 10 of the 70 surveyed cities reported double-digit increases in new home prices.

Regardless of the impact, the series of moves show the government's determination to cool the housing markets, analysts said.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Sunday during an online chat with the public that the government would work to increase housing supplies, with 36 million affordable homes planned by 2015, including 10 million this year. Last year saw the start of construction of 5.9 million affordable homes.

The central government had signed strict agreements with provincial governments to guarantee the construction of 10 million subsidized apartments this year, Wen said.

The government would also step up efforts to develop low-rent public housing, added Wen. With its huge population and limited land, China's property policy should be appropriate to its situation, which does not mean that all Chinese citizens will own their own homes.


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