China Announces Plan to Renovate Rural Housing

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Mar. 9 – China will implement a large scale plan to renovate dilapidated houses in rural areas to improve quality of living, create jobs and increase domestic demand, according to reports.

The vice minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, Qi Ji, told Xinhua during the ongoing annual parliament session that China will rebuild 800,000 rural houses this year, leading to the creation of 1.5 million jobs. Details of how much the plan will cost the Chinese government has not been made available yet.

The plan comes at a time when the government has been aggressively implementing measures to cope with the slowing global economy. Export demand has been dropping which led to mass lay-offs and factory closures in South China.

According to estimates, 20 million  people have been left unemployed by the crisis and 6.1 million college graduates will be looking for jobs this year.

The plan already began its pilot program last year in Guizhou Province. According to the local government of Zunyi City for every one yuan that is subsidized by the government for the rural housing program, would amount to a 10 yuan investment from farmers.

One example is Tongzhi County where more than 6,000 people, including 1,000 returning farmers are now employed because of the housing renovation plan.

Last year, more than 20,000 houses in Guizhou were damaged or destroyed during a snow and sleet disaster.The pilot program started after the government earmarked 260 million yuan and as of the end of the year more than 20,000 rural families have move to their new homes. Another 34,000-strong families in Guizhou are expected to benefit from the program this year.

Guizhou Provincial Governor Lin Shusen told Xinhua that the central and provincial governments would budget RMB10 billion for the housing renovation program this year.

Shandong Province also has a similar program to renovate 800,000 houses in the next five years while building 750,000-1,000,000 new houses annually in the countryside within three years.