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China approves plan to boost development of central region

(Xinhua)

08:28, July 26, 2012

BEIJING, July 25 (Xinhua) -- The State Council, China's Cabinet, on Wednesday approved a plan to promote the development of the country's central region.

The development of the central region, which includes Shanxi, Anhui, Jiangxi, Henan, Hubei and Hunan provinces, is of strategic importance in China's regional development layout, according to a statement released after a State Council meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao.

The meeting outlined seven priority tasks in boosting the rise of the central region, according to the statement.

Energy should be focused on constructing bases for grain production, energy and raw materials, modern equipment manufacturing and high-tech industries in the central region, it said.

Governments should speed up building high-grade waterways and ports on the Yangtze River, the Huai River and their major branches, and more feeder airports should be constructed in order to consolidate the region's status as a comprehensive transportation hub, it said.

Priority will also be given to forming economic belts in regions along the east-west Longhai Railway, the north-south Beijing-Guangzhou Railway and Beijing-Kowloon (in Hong Kong) Railway, as well as the Yangtze River, in an effort to promote the region's development and opening-up, it said.

Moreover, efforts will be directed toward accelerating financial reforms and innovation in the region's provincial capitals, including Wuhan, Zhengzhou and Changsha, it said.

Governments should also support the development of the least-developed areas in the region, improve education and social security networks to safeguard local people's livelihood and increase efforts in energy conservation and local environmental protection, it said.

Meanwhile, the meeting decided to expand the value-added tax (VAT) reform trial to 10 more Chinese regions, including Beijing and Tianjin, during the period from August 1 to the end of the year.

More regions will run the program next year, and trials in some sectors will be expanded across the nation in 2013, according to the meeting.

Aiming to avoid double taxation, China started replacing its turnover tax with the VAT in the transport sector and some service sectors in Shanghai from January 1 this year.

The meeting also studied work on improving the country's minimum subsistence allowances system, asking the government to mend the system's qualification criteria, standardizing the examination and approval process and establishing related verification and supervision mechanisms.

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