CHINA is to push ahead with price reform next year - but officials assured the 1.17 billion populace that any price rises incurred would be ''bearable'', it was reported yesterday.
According to a report from the Hong Kong China News Agency (HKCNA), new price reforms will be introduced next year and all prices are expected to be determined by market mechanisms within ''several years''.
In spite of remarks made by central leaders that inflation next year would stay below 10 per cent, economists believe price levels will rise to around 11 to 12 per cent in 1994.
Officials put the inflation rate this year at 13 per cent, although major cities saw inflation jump to more than 20 per cent.
The HKCNA said officials attending the national economic work conference in Beijing this month indicated the need to strictly control the growth of prices of daily necessities in the course of the intensification of price reform.
''Price reform is bound to cause great impact on commodity prices. People as a matter of course hope that prices will be stable . . . and enjoy the fruits of reform.
''Although the real income of workers has grown drastically since 1979, it is still hard for them to bear a double-digit inflation rate,'' the report said.
But such ''stable prices'' will not be lasting, it said.
''Next year's price reform should keep the level of price rises below the highest level of tolerance in the society,'' the report said.
Protected prices for some production materials should be abolished as soon as possible so that their levels will be determined by supply and demand, it said.
Although prices of a small number of commodities and services will still be fixed by the state, the levels should be adjusted to better meet market standards, the report said.