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January 20, 2011

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Infrastructure cash to go to rural areas

RURAL districts will receive the bulk of Shanghai's infrastructure spending over the next five years, as the city seeks to balance growth, Mayor Han Zheng said yesterday.

In the Five-Year Plan ending in 2015, Shanghai will contribute 70 percent of its infrastructure budget to developing rural districts, including Jiading and Songjiang, with the remaining 30 percent going to downtown areas.

This is the opposite of the 30-70 rural-downtown allocation of the past five years.

"Shanghai is shifting its infrastructure investment to rural areas from downtown to help the city grow more balanced and sustainable," Han said during a discussion with local lawmakers yesterday. "We seek quicker growth in rural districts and continued momentum in downtown areas."

Downtown spectacular skyscrapers, glitzy shopping malls and top-end hotels and bars have heralded Shanghai's rise as a major world city.

However, limited land and crowded traffic downtown also drive Shanghai to expand from the center, and let the people in outlying areas enjoy the benefits of the city's growth, said Han.

"Protecting the interests of farmers and other residents is key to the drive to develop rural areas," Han said. "People are the priority and their talent is Shanghai's greatest resources."

To improve life in rural districts, more infrastructure, hospitals and cultural facilities will be built. Development will factor in environmental and social effects, Han added.

Shanghai's economy is estimated to grow 10 percent in 2010. The city targets an average growth of 8 percent annually though 2015, with more focus on quality and efficiency.


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