BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) -- Shanghai Party chief Han Zheng admitted that vehicle license plates are too expensive in his city, and pledged to use the funds raised from the license bidding for local residents.
"I agree that car plates are too expensive," Han, secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, said Wednesday while attending a group discussion of the Shanghai delegation to the first session of the 12th National People's Congress, China's legislature.
To date, one vehicle license plate has been charged for over 80,000 yuan (12,698 U.S. dollars), enough to buy an economy car in the city.
The Shanghai municipal government charged vehicle license plates in 1994, as part of the moves to address the heavy traffic problem in the metropolis of 23.8 million residents.
Han promised to disclose to the public the incomes from selling vehicle license plates.
"The incomes are raised from the people and should be used to serve the people," Han said.
While agreeing vehicle license plates are expensive, Han said demands still exceed supply.
"If we want to keep the prices in line, we have to grant more license plates," Han said.
More license plates, which means more private cars, will aggravate the traffic woes of Shanghai, where a total of 2.8 million vehicles are expected to run by this year.
"At present, Shanghai releases 9,000 plates each month. We hope to do the job better through enhancing supervision and improving the system," Han said.
Han also defended China's latest five measures, promulgated by the State Council on Feb. 20, regulating the real estate market. The measures, including levying 20 percent personal income taxes for the sale of the second home, are meant to check rampant rise in property prices.
"Regulation of the real estate is a long-term task," Han said. "All the regulating policies are established for maintaining healthy development of the market and effectively curb housing prices to rise too fast."
House prices have risen wildly in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai, to deep dissatisfaction of residents.
"I believe the Chinese real estate market will develop healthily when these measures are implemented," Han said.
Han also felt bitter about the Chinese mainland milk powder manufacturers, when asked twice by the press what he thought of the recent limits of carrying milk powder out of Hong Kong.
On March 1, the Hong Kong authorities put into effect a strict regulation, stipulating outbound travellers could bring with them no more than two cans of milk powder. Violators might face a fine of 500,000 Hong Kong dollars and a punishment of being jailed for two years.
The measure has severely affected mainlanders who previously swarmed to Hong Kong to buy foreign brands of milk powder, believed safer than mainland products.
"The whole society is concerned with the milk powder issue," Han said. "Mainland milk powder manufacturers have the obligations and the government has the duty to ensure the food safety."