China has decided to form a post-quake reconstruction planning group as an important part of the on-going, time-consuming disaster relief for areas battered by the May 12 earthquake.
Mu Hong, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) deputy head, told a press conference here Wednesday the group would have the NDRC, the Sichuan provincial government and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development as the main body.
On the basis of research and scientific evidence by specialists, the planning group would make assessments on related geological conditions and decide locations for reconstruction projects. It would also organize professionals to formulate reconstruction plans and detailed implementation schemes, Mu said.
Funds will be raised through various channels for the reconstruction. Money will come from central and local governments, enterprises, institutions and individuals.
The central government has earmarked 70 billion yuan (10 billion U.S. dollars) for reconstruction for the remainder of this year. Next year, a certain amount of funds would also be set aside for the same purpose, Mu said.
An 8.0-magnitude earthquake jolted the southwestern province of Sichuan on May 12, which left 68,109 dead as of Wednesday noon, according to the Information Office of the State Council.
Another 364,552 were injured and 19,851 others were still listed as missing. More than 45.61 million people were affected by the quake and about 15 million have been evacuated, the office said.
Great efforts are being made to ensure smooth transport of coal, oil and gas and supplies of electricity and drinking water, according to Mu.
Earlier reports said the central government allocated 384,000 tons from China's grain reserves for quake relief.
Shi Gang, head of NDRC comprehensive department, said China garnered a good harvest of summer grain, which accounted for about 23 percent of the annual grain production nationwide. The country kept abundant grain reserves, with a grain self-sufficiency ratio of 95 percent. As a major agricultural production base, Sichuan had reaped 92 percent of its wheat, Shi said. All these were conducive to stabilizing grain prices, which made up one-third of the country's consumer price index (CPI).
According to Mu, the exact size of the economic loss incurred by the serious earthquake was not available now. He estimated the loss was bound to be larger than those incurred by the severe winter weather earlier this year.
Mu said since Sichuan made up only four percent of China's national economy, the impact from the earthquake disaster to the nation's annual GDP would be limited.
(Xinhua News Agency May 28, 2008)