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Shanghai takes steps to curb talent drain, price hikes

SHANGHAI will carry out new policies to improve the working and living conditions of non-local professionals, including foreigners, and to further stabilize consumer prices, Shanghai Party Secretary Yu Zhengsheng said today.

These policies are crucial for Shanghai to reach its objectives in economic restructuring and development, and to ensure social stability, Yu told a two-day plenary session of the CPC Shanghai Committee, which ended today.

Shanghai's decision makers said they have noticed a growing trend of brain drain due to the city's rocketing living costs.

"Housing for young professionals has become the biggest problem for Shanghai to realize its economic restructuring," Mayor Han Zheng said at the meeting, adding that talent loss is most serious in some high-tech sectors. Young professionals from abroad and other parts of China are leaving to seek opportunities elsewhere.

The mayor said the city is slow to curb the talent drain and he urged district governments to offer incentives for worthy companies to build staff apartments to retain their skilled professionals.

Shanghai also plans to make residence permits easily available to special professionals. Non-locals with such permits can enjoy the city's social welfare benefits, such as education for children.

Yu Zhengsheng also urged the government to lower the threshold for talented people to apply for Shanghai residence permits and contribute to the city's economic development.

The officials said public services in suburban towns and communities, such as schools, transportation, and retail facilities, should be improved because a large number of migrants are living there.

"We should create a better environment for the city's expanding migrant population to adapt to local life," Yu said. He said in the next five years Shanghai will boost public services in its suburbs, streamline government agencies, and allocate more police force to suburban areas.

Regarding Shanghai's economic performance, Mayor Han Zheng said the city's economic growth has shown signs of slowing down and inflationary pressure is still intense. The central government's tightening policies have made it difficult for small and medium-sized companies to get bank loans.

Accordingly, the mayor said, the city government should try to help some cash-strapped companies to obtain bank loans to carry on major infrastructure and budge housing projects to prevent them from being grounded.

Local CPI rose 5 percent in the first half of the year with food prices soaring by 10.4 percent and housing rents increasing by 5 percent, the mayor said. The price of pork, a benchmark index to reflect food price trend, is now 60 to 70 percent more expensive than a year ago.

In bid to tame rising food prices, the city is investing in a crop-farming base in China's northeastern Heilongjiang Province. When completed, the base will supply high-quality rice to Shanghai at fair prices.

Han noted that Shanghai's vegetable production will double in the remaining months of this year to stabilize local prices.


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