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Beijing to probe steep housing prices

Teams will be sent to check if policies to calm market are being enforced

(BEIJING) China’s cabinet will send teams to major cities next week to investigate whether policies to cool the sizzling property market are being enforced properly, sources said.

Beijing has introduced a series of policies over the last few years to curb surging prices and provide more affordable housing but apparently to little effect, as prices have continued to rise steeply, especially in big cities like Shenzhen.

Sources said that the investigation would last about two weeks and would focus on the twin issues of price and supply.

‘Investigative teams will be sent around the country on Monday and will cover key cities that have had rapid property price increases in every province,’ said a source.

According to official figures, housing prices in China’s major 70 cities jumped 9.5 per cent in October this year from a year earlier, accelerating from an 8.9 per cent rise in September and 8.2 per cent in August.

Housing prices are not only a financial issue but also, increasingly, a political one. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said during his visit to Singapore last month that housing was his biggest concern regarding Chinese people’s livelihood.

The investigative teams will draw officials from different ministries, including the Ministry of Construction, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Finance, sources said.

China conducted a similar investigation in September 2006, covering 11 provinces.


Source: Reuters (Business Times 8 Dec 07)

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