China’s top economic planner is drawing up a document outlining a new style of urbanization that offers incentives for local governments to integrate migrant workers.
Xu Shaoshi, minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, said at an annual conference on Dec 22 that the plan, which consists of 36 articles, has been submitted to the State Council for its opinion.
Specifically, Beijing will link the number of migrant workers a local government assimilates to three treasured quotas: the central government’s transfer payments to local governments, additional urban construction land and construction funding.
“The design was proposed in early 2014, in the Blueprint for New-Style Urbanization, but it lacked implementation details. If implemented, it could offer powerful impetus, as these quotas are always in short supply,” said Ni Pengfei, head of the Center for City and Competitiveness at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Transfer payments are a key revenue source for local governments, contributing 30 percent of money in 2014－possibly higher in underdeveloped regions. Urban construction land is increasingly scarce in major cities.
Xu’s comment came at the end of the Central Urban Work Conference, the first in 37 years. The conference is expected to develop policies ranging from city planning, housing, city population, infrastructure and public administration for years to come.
Xu said the document integrates guidance from the conference, adding that the gathering’s main goal was to build “harmonious, livable, vibrant and distinctive” modern cities.
The recently concluded Central Economic Work Conference highlighted the issue of absorbing migrants as a new source of demand in the Chinese economy. Hopes have been pinned on migrants as a solution for dissolving the country’s glut of unsold homes.
By 2014, about 55 percent of China’s population lived and worked in cities, but those with urban household registration, or hukou, accounted for only 36 percent of total. The rest were migrants. Without urban hukou, 274 million of Chinese are denied access to education, employment and healthcare services.