CHINA has promised investors in its growing power sector that they will gain from the industry under the proposed electric power law. The draft law for China's first national legal framework for the power sector was submitted to the National People's Congress (NPC) which opened in Beijing yesterday. The congress law committee proposed that it be adopted as law during the meeting. Beijing University department of economics and management head Professor Li Yining said the law would boost foreign investor confidence in the mainland power sector. 'The pivotal theme of the law is to encourage everybody to invest in the sector,' said Prof Li, who is also vice-chairman of the NPC law committee. He said under the law, calculation of tariffs would be taken into account costs, along with a 'reasonable rate of return' plus taxation. He said it would not specify the rate of return - this would be decided by the State Council. Xinhua (the New China News Agency) said article 3 of the draft law provided that China encourage domestic and foreign economic organisations and individuals to invest in the development of power resources, and to build power plants. It stipulates that China will follow the principle that whoever invests in the power sector will gain from the industry. Prof Li said the grid supply price would gradually be unified according to the law under the principle of 'same price for same grid and same quality'. China's austerity programme has seen fixed asset investment being held back, stalling China's power sector. Foreign investors have become more cautious about entering the sector due to the lack of rate of return guarantees and foreign exchange compensation by the state. Raising electricity prices in China is difficult. A power company now has to obtain approvals by price bureaus, the State Planning Commission and the Ministry of Electric Power. With 10 chapters and 75 articles, the draft law contains explicit stipulations about construction of power facilities, management of power grids, electricity supply and use, and construction of power facilities in rural areas. It also covers agriculture-related electricity consumption, protection of power facilities and legal liabilities. Xinhua said China would pursue the policy of granting preferential treatment for rural electrification and would give priority to assist construction of power facilities in border areas and other underdeveloped areas. Article 72 states that those stealing or damaging power equipment in a way that jeopardises public security will have their crimin-al responsibilities investigated. The draft law contains articles on how to penalise workers of power companies who abuse their power.