9 March 2011
The Chinese government is planning to spend nearly $200 billion on homes for low-income families this year. They are trying to make it easier for people to buy a place to live as property prices in most Chinese cities are still increasing every month.
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The government's promising to build or renovate 10 million households for low-income families this year and next. Officials will provide about 40% of the cost. The rest will be raised from the families or companies who benefit from the programme.
It's an ambitious target, perhaps too ambitious. The state-controlled media here says, last year, a plan to build just under six million affordable homes wasn't completed. It's getting harder and harder for families in Chinese cities to buy even a small apartment.
The government's responded with measures to try to curb speculation, making it more expensive to buy second homes, and telling local governments to set price targets. Qi Ji, a housing minister, said these price curbs were an effort to direct the limited supply of housing towards those who needed it most.
Property developers are already complaining that the plans to build so many affordable homes will hit their profits. Ten million units would be more than half the number of new homes built here last year.
But China's Premier, Wen Jiabao, has promised to work harder to address public concerns about the housing market. Reports in the state media quote officials as saying a new round of controls will be introduced if property prices don't stabilise in the weeks ahead.
Chris Hogg, BBC News, Shanghai
Click to hear the vocabulary:
repair (something which is not in a good condition)
collected or gathered from
- just under
slightly less than
official actions or rules
- curb speculation
here, control or limit people who buy properties hoping to sell them for large profits
- property developers
business people who organise and fund the construction of houses, apartments and other buildings
repeat the exact words of (somebody)
- a new round of
a fresh set of
here, become steadier or more predictable