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City may offer more car plates to spur spending

SHANGHAI may issue 35 percent more car license plates this year as it banks on rising consumption of big-ticket items to maintain economic growth.

Vice Mayor Tang Dengjie told a conference that sales of household products have been increasing but this is still not enough to realize the city's 500-billion-yuan (US$73.3 billion) target for retail sales this year.

"We should also pay more attention to the consumption of goods that cost thousands of yuan, tens of thousands of yuan and even hundreds of thousands of yuan," Tang said.

"Besides sending more home appliances to rural areas, encouraging vehicle purchases will also be crucial (for economic growth)," he added.

Shanghai is the only city that auctions car plates to help control the vehicle population and manage congestion and pollution.

Tang said the number of car plates issued this year may increase by 35 percent. Shanghai Daily estimates that would equate to 114,075 plates for the year.

"But the total figure would remain at a low level for a big city like Shanghai," Tang said. Last year, 84,500 car plates were auctioned for an average price of 32,379 yuan.

Tang said the city government is also considering plans to encourage car owners to replace old vehicles.

Shanghai may offer incentives such as subsidies or reduced tax to people who replace high-polluting vehicles with new ones, according to industry sources.

Shanghai has taken measures to increase consumption after the city's GDP growth fell below 10 percent last year for the first time since 1992.


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