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China's Low-rent Housing Applicants to Be Means Tested

China's low-income urban families are to be means tested if they apply for low-rent housing, according to a new policy framework agreed by the State Council executive on Thursday.

A State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao heard the affordable housing system still needed to be improved, and living conditions remained poor for some low-income earners.

No figures or details were discussed at the meeting, but the policy framework states that:

-- all low-income earners are to be covered by the low-rent housing system by the end of 2010;

-- means testing is to be introduced to ensure applicants qualify for access to low-rent housing;

-- more low-rent housing should be provided through construction, purchase, renovation and other means.

The state councilors agreed that funding for low-rent housing provision should be brought under the control of the annual central fiscal budget, land should be appropriated for construction, and regulation of housing supply should be improved.

The central government will grant special financial support to central and western regions for the low-rent housing.

The state councilors also discussed adjusting basic pensions for corporate retirees.

China has more than 40 million corporate retirees and the government has, since 2005, raised their pensions three times. The State Council, or the cabinet, has decided to raise pensions another three times from 2008 to 2010.

(Xinhua News Agency August 3, 2007)

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