Chinese lawmakers hear reports on building of new countryside, investment in water conservation

Publish time: 24th December, 2014      Source: Xinhua News Agency
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BEIJING, Dec. 23 (Xinhua) -- China's top legislature on Tuesday heard reports on the progress of overall rural reform -- termed the "building of new socialist countryside" -- and national investment in water conservation at its bimonthly session.


Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, attended the session.


In a report submitted to the meeting, which began on Monday and will conclude Sunday, Agriculture Minister Han Changfu said grain output had increased for the 11th-consecutive year, reaching 67.1 billion kilograms in 2014.


The yearly net income of rural residents reached 8,896 yuan (about 1,435 U.S. dollars) per person in 2013. The ratio between urban and rural residents' incomes dropped from 3.33:1 in 2009 to 3.03:1 in 2013. The number of people deemed poor dropped from 122 million at the end of 2011 to 82.49 million by the end of 2013, the agriculture minister told lawmakers.


Han said the construction on infrastructure such as drinking water supply, roads, electricity, housing and communication networks in rural areas had continued to improve, and rapid development had been seen in basic public services for rural residents, including medical care, social security, education and culture.


However, he said, China still faced challenges with the sustainable development of agriculture, improvement of rural residents' livelihoods, the rural environment and countryside administration.


Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said in his report that the government had allocated 1.33 trillion yuan to water conservation efforts from 2011 to 2013, on average a yearly increase of 19 percent.


China started construction of several major water conservation projects and improved its drought and flood-relief systems, according to Lou.


The money also supported the construction of the south-to-north water diversion project, and large and medium-sized dams, he said.


He also pointed out major problems in the management of water conservation funding, for example, some large or medium-sized water conservation projects' budgets were not managed properly and some projects, especially those in rural areas, were not well maintained.


Lawmakers also heard reports on work safety and urban and rural social security systems.