|China's Central Government helps Tibet develop economy and society|
|31 March 2008|
According to the latest statistics, the total GDP of the Tibet Autonomous Region was over 34.2 billion yuan in 2007; and the per capita GDP exceeded 12,000 yuan, nearly doubling from the level in 2007. The Tibetan economy has maintained more than 12% of development growth for seven consecutive years.
The rapid economic development in Tibet reflects the strong support of the central government. From batches of large-scale infrastructure construction to support in bringing health insurance to farmers and herdsmen, education, and cultural protection; central finance authorities has injected vitality into Tibetan economic and social development by offering strong funds and policy support.
180 infrastructure projects lay foundation for Tibet's economic take-off
In the past 30 years of reform and opening, the central government has been increasing investment in Tibet's infrastructure. Key projects such as the Qinghai-Tibet railway, Nyingchi airport and other transportation infrastructure have effectively eased the bottleneck of Tibet's rapid economic development.
According to the Tibet Autonomous Regional Development and Reform Commission, Tibet has designed 77 key projects involving an investment of 200 billion yuan this year. So far, more than 20 of these 77 key projects have been started or renewed.
In recent years, the central government has intensified support in Tibet. In 2006, the State Council formulated 40 preferential measures to accelerate the development of Tibet and to maintain stability in the region. In 2007, the State Council organized 180 projects involving more than 770 billion yuan during the "11th Five-Year Plan," including the improvement in the infrastructure of the Ali Airport, the extension of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Line, the improvement of rural drinking water in rural and pastoral areas, the construction of a power grid in areas without electricity, the construction of a telephone network, and the improvement in the infrastructure of farmers' and herdsmen's living spaces.
By the end of 2007, these 180 projects had involved 20.2 billion yuan in funds, accounting for 26% of total investment in the "11th Five-Year Plan." More than 77%(139)of the projects have been kicked off. Investment into 48 national projects has been put in place. A number of key projects have been completed and put into operation, such as the Nyingchi Airport, Lhasa Liuwu Bridge, Zhikong Hydropower Station, Shiquanhe Hydropower Station and the new campus of Tibet University.
Qiangba Puncog, Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Government, said that in 2008, Tibet will begin construction of key projects including the Lhasa-Xigaze extension of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, and the Alihunsha airport.
With an improving economic infrastructure, Tibet's economic development has entered a "golden period." In addition, the industrial economy has entered a period with the fastest growth since the 1990s. In 2007, the added value of the entire industry grew by 17.1% over the previous year. Tertiary industries, with tourism leading in development, have gained very strong momentum for development. In 2007, the total number of tourists visiting Tibet reached 4,029,400: an increase of 60.4%.
Preferential financial and tax policies facilitate Tibet's development
The five years following the 16th CPC Congress witnessed a substantial increase in financial resources for the Region.
"Tibet's financial strength has been growing as a result of strong support and assistance from the central government," said Ding Yexian, head of the financial department of the Tibet Autonomous Region. In 2007, the central government gave Tibet 28.321 billion yuan in subsidies: 2.16 times as many as that in 2002. Local financial expenditures in Tibet reached 27.537 billion yuan: 2 times as many as that in 2002. Income funded by the central government's subsidies in Tibet accounts for 102.8% of Tibet's financial expenditures in 2007 – remaining the highest nationwide.
According to statistics, over the past five years, central government subsidies to Tibet totaled 95.012 billion yuan: 2.42 as many as in the last five-year period. Central government subsidies to Tibet have formed a mechanism for long-term and stable growth.
The Ministry of Finance reported that since the peaceful liberation of Tibet, according to Party Central Committee and State Council instructions and considering Tibet's unique survival and working environment, the central government has introduced supportive policies in terms of fiscal and taxation systems, people's livelihood and treatment of cadres.
Regarding fiscal and taxation policies, the central government implemented financial policies which "retain all the income, increase subsidies and introduce special support." Since Tibet's peaceful liberation, central finance authorities continued to intensify institutional grants to Tibet; and gradually increased financial resources in Tibet. By 2007, the total systematic subsidy of the central finance authorities to Tibet reached 4.48 billion yuan. Simultaneously, the central authorities also strengthened the momentum of transfer payments to Tibet. In 2007, general transfer payments, transfer payments in minority areas, and special transfer payments in Tibet reached 6.054 billion yuan, 652 million yuan and 9.487 billion yuan respectively.
On the revenue side, the central government clearly announced its decision, from 1994 onwards, to release the revenue balance after tariffs, import consumption tax and value-added tax, to Tibet. The central government also granted Tibet the right to manage the revenue. With the exception of taxes not subject to local government management such as tariffs, the import consumption tax and value-added tax, the Tibet Autonomous Region Government is responsible for managing all revenue and implementing all regulations upon the State Council's approval. In addition, Tibet adopts a preferential tax rate which is three percentage points lower than in other parts of the country; and farmers and herdsmen enjoy various tax and fee exemptions.
The central government also vigorously supports Tibet's heritage protection work. During the "10th Five-Year Plan" period, the central finance authorities allocated 179 million yuan for the protection of three major Tibetan heritage works. In the same period, the central government will arrange another 290 million yuan to support the reparation of the Region's cultural relics.
In addition, the central government supports Tibet by providing subsidies to financial and insurance companies; and adopting preferential lending and insurance rates that are two percentage points lower than that in other areas of the country. And finally, the central government gives subsidies to Tibet based upon the impact of price increases in the Region as a result of major price adjustment measures.
New initiatives from central finance authorities create new life for Tibetan farmers
Statistics show that with the strong support of the central finance authorities, Tibet is experiencing monumental changes. In 2007, Tibet greeted its 20th agricultural harvest and witnessed continuous improvement in farmers' income. The per capita annual net income reached 2,788 yuan: an increase of 14.5% over the same period the previous year, and about seven percentage points higher than the national average. The per capita net income of farmers and herdsmen maintained double-digit growth for five consecutive years.
In recent years, the Central Committee has repeatedly emphasized that funds and projects which aid Tibet should be emphasized to improve production and living conditions in rural and pastoral areas. Today, a growing number of aid to Tibet has shifted from cities and towns to agricultural and pastoral areas.
An official with the Ministry of Finance said that since the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the central finance authorities have been supporting the establishment of a free health care system for farmers and herdsmen; and continuously upgrading standards. By 2008, 2.37 million farmers and herdsmen in Tibet will receive free medical care, on average limited to 140 yuan in value, annually. In addition, central finance authorities have introduced the "Three Guarantee" policy for the education of farmers' and herdsmen's children (i.e. guarantee free food, free accommodation and free tuition). By 2008, 266,000 children of farmers and herdsmen will receive a 1,200 yuan "Three Guarantee" annually. Meanwhile, central finance authorities have provided support for Tibetan classes and schools in the mainland. From 2006 onwards, the central finance authorities have vigorously promoted the establishment of a social relief system for farmers and herdsmen in Tibet; and distributed subsidies to those earning below the income standard of 800 yuan per capita. So far, 819,000 people have benefited from this program.
In addition, with the fast and sound development of the national economy, the State has taken necessary steps to improve the treatment of Tibetan cadres and employees. From 1994 onwards, the government introduced a special wage policy for cadres and employees in organs and institutions in Tibet; and shouldered the cost. For this same purpose, the central finances authorities have also provided subsidies to Tibet's cadres in areas such as housing, heating, and medical care.
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