Booming economic growth is no longer the best way to lift people out of poverty on the mainland, a senior United Nations official has warned. UN resident co-ordinator in China, Khalid Malik, said government development priorities should instead target the needs of the poor, such as improving health and education and expanding job-creation opportunities. 'Pro-growth policies often become subsidies for the elite and in many cases make the situation worse for those trapped in poverty,' Dr Malik said. 'To resolve these problems, China's development policies should have a more pro-poor emphasis.' The mainland's policy of promoting double-digit economic growth has made significant reductions in poverty, with official statistics showing the number of rural poor dropped from 250 million in 1978 to 30 million by 2000. Last month, Premier Wen Jiabao announced the government hoped to wipe out poverty in 10 years. To achieve that goal, Dr Malik said China needed to move away from high-growth policies because they had exacerbated income gaps between rich and poor, while worsening environmental conditions. He noted that economic growth was a factor in the recent huge losses of arable land, which have hurt rural incomes. Dr Malik said the government should adopt more 'pro-poor' policies, such as the decision to completely eliminate rural taxes in the next five years.