A drone image shows Yongxi Reservoir — an improved water resource — in Quanzhou, Fujian province. The city has invested 4.7 billion yuan to boost tap water supply for rural areas, said the Quanzhou water resources bureau. (PHOTO/CHINA DAILY)
China's local-level authorities are increasingly prioritizing investment effectiveness, focusing on water conservancy projects closely related to people's livelihoods.
This is also in line with the nation's efforts at boosting urbanization, rural vitalization and economic recovery through better infrastructure, experts said.
According to the Ministry of Water Resources, 24,900 new water conservancy projects were launched nationwide in the first nine months of the year, a year-on-year increase of 12.9 percent.
"Total investment scale of the projects was 1.15 trillion yuan ($157.1 billion), a year-on-year increase of 8.9 percent. As of the end of September, over 860 billion yuan has been used to this end," said Chen Min, vice-minister of water resources, during a news conference last week.
Additionally, 10 provincial-level regions spent over 40 billion yuan during the reporting period on water conservancy projects, "which have become an effective driving force for local economies", Chen added.
Water conservancy projects nationwide created more than 2.2 million jobs from January to September, up 5.7 percent year-on-year. Among these jobs, around 1.8 million were taken up by laborers from rural areas, rising 2.8 percent on a yearly basis, with the wages earned surging 34.7 percent to 30.61 billion yuan, he said.
Referring to the fourth quarter, Chen said the ministry will launch another batch of major projects and step up efforts in reconstruction after natural disasters, and flood prevention.
China recently decided to issue 1 trillion yuan in special treasury bonds during the fourth quarter and expand the budgeted fiscal deficit rate to around 3.8 percent for the year, up from 3 percent earlier.
According to the Ministry of Finance, the funds raised will be mostly used in eight areas including reconstruction after disasters, flood prevention and management projects, and natural disaster emergency response capacity improvement projects.
"The infrastructure sector will receive direct benefits from the latest bond issuance. With previous policies also taking effect in the rest of the year, it will guarantee a better investment performance in the fourth quarter," said Long Chaocan, an investment consultant with China Galaxy Securities Co Ltd.
Focus on water conservancy projects is also a reflection of the central government's attention to hidden local debt, as the risks behind such projects are relatively lower, Long added.
Amid the rising investments in water conservancy projects, more local governments are seen focusing on effectiveness while investing, in areas such as those related to tap water supply and irrigation.
For example, Quanzhou in Fujian province, which labeled urban-rural water integration as a key mission citywide to push forward in 2021, has recently seen its efforts bear fruit.
With a total planned investment of 10.8 billion yuan, Quanzhou's tap water network aims to cover more villages than before. According to the Quanzhou water resources bureau, so far, over 4.7 billion yuan has been used, which has yielded initial results — 15 large-scale water plants built and 1,825 kilometers of pipelines laid or upgraded.
Thanks to such efforts, some districts or counties, such as Yongchun and Nan'an, are now supported by the municipal tap water supply system, with water quality check results in the city's rural areas ranking tops among peers in the city, it added.
Going forward, the city will further develop or upgrade 135 water sources, 65 large plants and 3,560-km of pipelines by 2025, and expand the integrated urban-rural water system to achieve 95 percent tap water coverage by then.