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Vice Premier Urges to Improve Low-rent Housing System

Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan has urged local governments to further improve the low-rent housing system to cover more low-income urban families.

Zeng made the call at a national conference on urban housing held in Beijing on Friday and Saturday.

Housing is directly related to people's livelihood. In some low-income families in cities, however, family members have only less than 10 square meters per person to live in, Zeng said.

The average housing area for per urbanite stood at 27 square meters in 2006, according to statistics.

Zeng said local governments should strive to offer adequate housing to low-income families with multiple means such as building more affordable apartments and reconstruct shantytowns and old residential areas.

Local governments should earmark funds for low-rent housing in their budgets, and at least 10 percent of the proceeds of land transfer should be used for low-rent housing, Zeng said.

Meanwhile, local proceeds from the public housing provident fund should be invested in the building of low-rent apartments.

According to Zeng, all low-income urbanites should be covered by the low-rent housing system by the end of 2010.

He said the recent price hikes of apartments had a negative impact on the interests of the public. He called on local governments to stabilize the housing price and boost the healthy development of the real estate market.

Housing prices in 70 major Chinese cities were up a record 7.5 percent in July from the same month last year.

An industry group predicted that housing prices in Chinese cities will continue to rise in the third quarter this year despite government pledges to make housing more affordable for low-income families.

(Xinhua News Agency August 27, 2007)

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