Premier: Agriculture a top priority in government work 03-06-2004 12:58

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao presented his government work report at the opening of the Second Session of the Tenth National People's Congress on Friday. In it, he said the government is seeking seven percent economic growth this year. And the top priority for all government work this year will focus on solving the problems facing agriculture, rural areas and the country's farmers.

In his report, the premier emphasized the balanced development of urban and rural areas, saying effective policies and measures should be taken to strengthen, support and protect the agricultural sector, and both agricultural production and rural income should be lifted.

The premier announced the government will press ahead with the reform of rural taxes and administrative charges. All taxes on special agricultural products will be repealed except for tobacco. This will reduce the financial burden on farmers by 4.8 billion yuan, or some 580 million US dollars annually.

Wen Jiabao said, "Beginning this year, the agricultural tax rate will be reduced by more than one percentage point per year on average, and agricultural taxes will be rescinded in five years."

The move will reduce the agricultural tax burden on farmers by 7 billion yuan or about 850 million US dollars this year.

The premier also said that steps must be taken this year to ensure that rural workers in cities are paid on time and in full. Clearing up back payments should begin with government-invested projects, but different types of enterprises should also be urged to pay their arrears as soon as possible. He added, "Enterprises and managers that refuse to pay back-wages to migrant rural workers must be held accountable in accordance with the law."


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