Shanghai seeks to improve living conditions to retain workers

08:54, July 13, 2011      

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SHANGHAI will carry out new policies to create a better work and living environment to retain non-local professionals, including expats, and to stabilize the growth of consumer prices, the city's Party Secretary Yu Zhengsheng told a meeting in town yesterday.

These new initiatives are crucial to Shanghai's goals on economic restructuring and development as well as to ensure social stability, Yu stressed at the two-day plenary session of the Party's Shanghai Committee, which concluded yesterday.

The city's top leaders said Shanghai is experiencing a brain drain, losing its needed professionals in various industries, mainly because of the rocketing local living expenses.

The difficulty of affordable housing for young professionals is the biggest obstacle to Shanghai realizing its restructuring goals, said Mayor Han Zheng at the same meeting.

He said that some high-end technology and research industries are being especially hard hit. Many of their talented young workers from overseas are leaving to work where they can get good pay and pleasant, lower-cost housing.

The mayor said the city has been slow in its efforts to curb the losses, and he urged district governments to immediately provide incentives to companies to establish staff residential properties to ease the crisis.

Besides tackling the housing issue, the local government also plans to make it easier for some professionals to get residence permits.

Non-locals with the residence permits are entitled to more favorable social benefits, including children's schooling.

Top government leaders also want the city to treat its migrants better.

They said the city is lagging in providing enough public services, including mass transport, medical care and schools, in the face of the fast-expanding migrant population. A large number of them now settle in suburban villages and towns, where public service facilities are largely insufficient, the top leaders said.

The city's population has grown to 23 million, including nearly 9 million migrants. The non-local population is increasing at 10 percent per year.

"We should create a better environment, including improving social services to help the city's expanding migrant population to better adjust into the local lives," Yu said.

He said in the next five years, the city will boost public services in the suburbs, streamline government agencies and allocate more police there to facilitate better social development and public security.

Officials also discussed overall economic trends in the city, with the mayor saying that the economy has shown signs of slowing down but that pressure on consumer prices remains intense.

Shanghai's consumer prices increased about 5 percent in the first half of the year, with food prices soaring by 10.4 percent while housing rentals went up 5 percent, the mayor said.

The price for pork, a benchmark index to reflect food price trends, is now 60 to 70 percent more expensive than a year ago, said the mayor.

Source: Shgnahai Daily
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