China's 2012 social housing target at 7 million: report

SHANGHAI Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:17pm EST

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The Chinese government will aim to begin construction on 7 million units of more affordable housing in 2012, while completing 4 million units, a Chinese newspaper reported on Friday.

Success or failure in meeting these targets will become a core criterion for measuring local officials' job performance for the first time, Shanghai Securities News also reported, citing an agreement signed between a State Council task force on social housing and local governments at the Nationwide Social Housing Work Meeting.

As housing prices have climbed relentlessly in recent years, Beijing has faced pressure to increase the supply of homes that are priced low enough that more of China's middle class can share in the dream of owning their own home.

The targets for housing starts and completions for this category of social housing is "basically decided," the paper reported, citing an unnamed source in China's Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, which is leading the task force.

China struggled to meet the 10 million target this year. The deputy housing minister also stated last month that in order to meet the target, the ministry decided to require that developers need only build "basic foundations."

Local property analysts have reported that many of the starts are little more than holes in the ground.

Funding pressures were cited as the reason that the 7 million target for new starts in 2012 is lower than the 10 million figure for 2011, according to unnamed sources in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.

(Reporting by Gabriel Wildau; Editing by Ken Wills)

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