BEIJING, Jan. 30 -- In a move to boost consumption, China will extend a subsidy program on home appliance goods aimed at rural areas from Feb.1, the People's Daily reported Thursday.
The Ministry of Commerce has decided to roll out the subsidy program nationwide from the currently covered 12 provinces.
China began a trial program in the provinces of Shandong, Henan and Sichuan in December 2007. It granted farmers a 13 percent subsidy on color TVs, refrigerators, mobile phones, washing machines and freezers.
Annual rural sales of these products grew 30 percent faster than the national average.
Citing ministry sources, the paper said that in the first 20 days of January this year, Chinese farmers had bought more than 160,000 subsidized goods. This is already 90 percent of the total sold in December 2008.
It added that the ministry said the expansion of the subsidy program will boost the purchasing power of rural residents by seven times.
The program now also provides farmers with subsidies on motorcycles, computers, water heaters and air conditioners.
Phone calls to the ministry's press office to confirm the figures went unanswered on Thursday.
Xinhua News Agency correspondents reporting from Beijing.