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Plan set to rebuild rural homes

THE Chinese government has announced a massive plan to rebuild dilapidated homes in rural areas, aiming to improve people's lives, create jobs and boost domestic demand amid the global financial meltdown.

Qi Ji, vice minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, said yesterday on the sidelines of the ongoing annual parliament session that the country will renovate 800,000 rural houses this year, a move that is expected to create 1.5 million jobs.

The budget for the program was not announced.

A pilot program started last year in poverty-stricken areas of Guizhou Province in southwestern China.

Among the beneficiaries was villager Liu Yonggao in Zunyi County, who received a 10,000-yuan (US$1,460) subsidy from the government for reconstruction that cost him 80,000 yuan.

According to local officials, every yuan the government provided in subsidies for the rural housing program drove a 10-yuan investment from farmers.

Plenty of jobs

It also brought plenty of jobs. In Tongzhi County alone, more than 6,000 people, including 1,000 farmers who returned home after losing their jobs in the cities, are working to rebuild or renovate rural houses.

More than 20,000 homes in Guizhou collapsed in a rare snow and sleet disaster at the beginning of last year, and 138,000 others were damaged.

The pilot program started after the government earmarked 260 million yuan for the effort.

As of the end of last year, more than 20,000 rural families had moved to their new homes.

Another 34,000 families in Guizhou are expected to benefit from the program this year.

"Farmers became enthusiastic to rebuild or renovate their homes after knowing that they would receive money from the government," said Liao Guoxun, a Guizhou-based deputy to the National People's Congress.

Guizhou provincial Governor Lin Shusen, also an NPC deputy, said the central and provincial governments would set aside 10 billion yuan for the program this year.


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