|Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang (L, front) meets with construction workers in Shijiazhuang city, capital of north China's Hebei Province, Jun. 11, 2011. Li addressed a meeting on Saturday, calling upon local authorities to step up efforts to build and fairly distribute high-quality affordable housing. (Xinhua/Liu Jiansheng)
SHIJIAZHUANG, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang has called upon local authorities to step up efforts to build and fairly distribute high-quality affordable housing.
"Building affordable housing is a major program to both improve the people's living standards and promote development," Li told senior provincial officials at a meeting in Shijiazhuang, capital city of north China's Hebei Province, on Saturday.
He said affordable housing projects would not only help guarantee and improve the people's living standards and increase the supply of housing so as to rein in the excessive rise in housing prices, but also assist the optimization of investment structure and expansion of consumption so as to boost growth in related sectors.
"Building affordable housing is both a major test to our efforts to accelerate the transformation of the economic growth pattern and a crucial measure to strengthen and improve macro-economic regulation to maintain stable and relatively fast economic growth," Li said.
The central government aimed to build 10 million affordable housing units this year as part of its efforts to help the country's low-income people, most of whom have been unable to afford a commercial house.
Official figures showed that, although affordable housing starts for the first five months this year are remarkably higher than the same period last year, some regions have lagged behind others.
Building 10 million affordable housing units this year, including the redevelopment of run-down areas and construction of public-rent housing, is an overriding task that the people are closely watching, he said.
"Coordinated efforts must be stepped up to ensure planned projects start on time and projects under construction are completed on time," he said.
To reach the goal, the central government would take more measures to increase funding support for local governments, and all regions should concentrate their funds on the building of affordable housing, Li said.
The vice premier also called for the establishment of a financing mechanism for affordable housing building so as to bring in more funds.
In the supply of land, priority should be given to affordable housing projects, and the examination and approval procedures for affordable housing projects should be quickened , said Li.
He also stressed the quality of affordable housing, urging local authorities to formulate and implement quality monitoring mechanism for affordable housing, and set stringent quality requirements for the designing and construction, and raw materials as well.
Calling fair distribution the "lifeline" of affordable housing programs, Li called upon local governments to make concrete measures to ensure affordable housing units are distributed in a fair manner.
"To make the distribution open, fair and equitable, all procedures in granting an affordable housing unit should be made public on the Internet and subject to supervision from the media and people," said Li.