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January 27, 2010

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Mayor's city priorities: a great Expo, wider service economy

Shanghai should make sure the 2010 World Expo is a success and transform the city's economy, while improving people's living standards, social harmony and stability, Mayor Han Zheng said yesterday.

Addressing the annual session of the Shanghai People's Congress, Han told the SPC deputies that the city's economy is picking up steadily and is in a critical moment after withstanding the global financial crisis last year.

The city has set this year's growth target for gross domestic product at 8 percent as the government hopes to improve the quality of the local economy and secure a steady recovery.

"In 2009, Shanghai's economy experienced difficulties and challenges of unprecedented intensity, severity and complexity ever since we launched the reform and opening up of the Pudong New Area," said Han in his government work report to the opening session.

"In this situation, the city's economic performance in 2009 is better than it had been expected at the beginning of the year."

Shanghai achieved a gross domestic product growth of 8.2 percent last year.

Among other projections proposed by the city government for this year are an 8 percent rise in fiscal revenue, a registered unemployment rate of 4.5 percent, and environmental protection investment equivalent to 3 percent of the city's total GDP, Han said.

The SPC is the city's top legislative body, comprising 800-plus deputies from all walks of life. They gather at the beginning of each year to discuss the city's key government policies and social and economic development issues.

Han told the deputies that the top task for this year is to hold a successful World Expo.

"Every citizen will be encouraged to contribute to the World Expo and act as hospitable, friendly and good-mannered hosts," Han said.

He stressed safety is the most basic precondition of a successful Expo. Food and drug safety need to be guaranteed.

The extended parts of Metro Line 2 and Metro Line 10 will be operating in the Expo year, making the total length of Metro lines 430 kilometers. In addition, construction will start on the second phase of the north part and the south part of Metro Line 11, Metro Line 12 and the first phase of Metro Line 13.

Another key task for the government, Han said, is to speed up development of a modern service industry.

He said Shanghai should continue to build itself into an international financial center and international shipping center. The government encourages development of professional service industries, such as accounting, law service and evaluation, information service, new media and the cartoon industry.

Companies are encouraged to use initiative to develop high-tech products.

The government will direct companies to increase investment in research and development by adopting incentive policies such as purchasing locally innovated products, according to Han.

As for the people's well-being, Han said the government will focus on solving issues related to employment, social insurance and housing.

Also attending the session were 34 resident representatives invited by the SPC.

Shi Weiguo, a junior from Tongji University, said the mayor's report covered topics he is keen to learn about, including the development of university students' job markets and government transparency.

Li Yin, a citizen representative from Shanghai University, said she has received more than 30 text messages and five calls so far, inquiring about government's plans regarding the real estate market, medical services, traffic, infrastructure and education.

"I am proud and excited to be one of the representatives of the city residents," Li said. "I will do my utmost to act as the bridge linking the general public and the government."


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