100 million farmers to be urbanites: official

Updated: 2015-12-23 14:40


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BEIJING - China plans to turn 100 million farmers into registered urban residents with the hope that this will encourage them to buy city apartments and help alleviate the country's massive housing glut, an official said on Tuesday.

The plan will be implemented starting next year, said Xu Shaoshi, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planning agency. Xu didn't specify when the plan would be completed.

China's housing market took a downturn in 2014 due to weak demand and a supply glut. The cooling has continued into 2015, with sales and prices falling, and investment slowing.

Along with cutting overcapacity, tackling debt overhang, destocking has been named a major task for 2016, following the Central Economic Work Conference, a key meeting that maps out next year's economic work. Attendees of the meeting agreed that rural residents relocating to urban areas should be allowed to register as city residents, which would encourage them to buy property in cities.

Nearly 55 percent of the Chinese population lives in cities but less than 40 percent are registered urban residents. The country has around 300 million migrant workers but most of them are denied "hukou" (official residence status), which means they are not entitled to equal employment rights and social security services, and their children are not allowed to be enrolled in city schools. Without official resident status, the migrant workers don't have a sense of belonging in cities and buying urban houses has not been an attractive option.

According to a government plan published last year, China plans to raise the number of registered urban residents to around 45 percent by 2020. Enditem