Part of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project runs through Nanyang, Henan province. [Photo/XINHUA]

China will intensify efforts to increase funding channels for investment in water conservancy projects and contribute to economic growth, officials said.

Water conservancy investment could provide effective impetus to economic development, as shown by findings of research projects undertaken by some institutes, said Wei Shanzhong, vice-minister of water resources, on Friday.

Every 100 billion yuan ($15.7 billion) of such investment can drive GDP growth by 0.15 percentage point and also create 490,000 new jobs, he said at a news conference by the State Council Information Office.

The ministry has planned to make at least 800 billion yuan of investment in developing water conservancy projects this year, he said. “It’s for sure that … the investment will play an important role in helping maintain stable macroeconomic performance.”

Wei vowed a series of measures to ensure a batch of new water conservancy projects can be launched this year, including the follow-up work of the massive South-to-North Water Diversion Project.

The ministry will draft a list of key projects, he said. In addition to setting deadlines for each of the necessary procedures for the launch of the projects, the ministry will specify the departments and officials that are responsible for each of them.

By proactively communicating with other government bodies, it will intensify efforts to speed up the procedures, including environmental impact assessment, he noted.

Wei also pledged to expand funding channels for these projects. From January to March, almost 50 billion yuan of local government bonds were issued for water conservancy projects. The ministry will guide water resources authorities across the country to get “as much support as possible” from the bonds, he said.

He also said that together with other government bodies and financial institutions concerned, the ministry plans to introduce preferential policies to enable financial capital and real estate investment trusts to play their roles in funding water conservancy development.

To make the investment effectively boost the economy, the ministry will urge companies to make all-out efforts to quicken the construction pace, he stressed.

Jiang Dayu, an official with the Ministry of Finance’s department of agriculture and rural affairs, said that of the 150.7 billion yuan of the central government’s general public budget, 60.6 billion yuan is for water conservancy project development.

He said his ministry also plans to mobilize another 57.2 billion yuan from government-managed funds to help expand water conservancy investment.

Considering the grim flood control situation in recent years, the reinforcement and maintenance of small and medium-sized reservoirs will be given priority when allocating these public funds, he said.

He said other focus areas of the public expenditure will be the follow-up work of the massive South-to-North Water Diversion Project, drinking water safety in rural areas and irrigation for agriculture.

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