Four-part plan to boost rural growth
By CHRIS YEUNG
CHINA plans sweeping changes in more than 2,800 counties across the nation to try to boost rural development, according to official reports.
Xinhua (the New China News Agency) yesterday reported that China's county-level reform would focus on four major tasks ''over a period of time''.
The four-part revamp at the lower administrative structure of the country was revealed at a recent symposium, the agency said.
Indicating that the administrative structure at county-level was unable to meet the needs of the market economy, it said that, first, a market-oriented structure should be nurtured to help rural areas compete in the economy.
Conference delegates pointed out that the 800 million peasants in the mainland were unable to ''compete in the market'' because of their lack of access to information and ''weak sense of market economy''.
''It is imperative to organise peasants to enter the market in the current reform in the countryside,'' Xinhua said.
It noted that the household contract responsibility system introduced since 1978 should be upheld and further improved. Development of a social service system also was necessary.
The development of specialised associations, professional and technological bodies and an economic community comprising agriculture, industry and commerce should be boosted to enhance peasants' competitiveness.
The report emphasised the the significance rural enterprises, which have become the backbone of the booming rural economy in the past 14 years.
Small enterprises that were running in the red or making small profits should be merged, put on auction or leased, it said.
Second, development of a market system should be further improved in a wide range of areas such as retail market, storage, transport, processing as well as technology and labour service.
A third stage would be to remove the economic boundary between towns and villages.
Co-operation between the economies of towns and villages should be boosted through various channels. Fourthly, the report said, the functions of governments at county-level should be streamlined.
''[We have to] study what functions county-level government should have . . . and what role it should play in giving support, protecting and guidance to the agricultural sector.'' County-level administrative organs should stop unlawful levies on peasants to help reduce their financial burden, Xinhua said.