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China rolls out new $2.2 billion subsidy scheme: Xinhua
BEIJING (Reuters) - China will provide subsidies worth $2.2 billion to buyers of energy-efficient computers and air-conditioners in the latest effort to stimulate domestic demand and encourage the use of environmentally friendly technology, Xinhua reported on Sunday.
The one-year subsidy program will cover purchases of desktop computers, air-conditioners, fans, water pumps, compressors and transformers, Xinhua said, quoting sources at China's Ministry of Finance.
It is expected to raise the market share of the energy-saving products to more than 40 percent.
"The move marks the government's effort to combine stabilizing economic growth and stoking domestic demand with promoting energy savings and emission reductions," the state news agency quoted an official at the ministry as saying.
China's economic growth has slowed for six straight quarters and analysts expect the trend to extend to a seventh when third quarter GDP data for 2012 is published. Growth in Q2 was 7.6 percent, its slackest in more than three years.
Recent data have cemented views that growth for the full year will be its lowest since 1999, likely below 8 percent and may even struggle to hit the government's 2012 growth target of 7.5 percent.
Officials last week revealed they had given the green light to 60 infrastructure projects worth more than $150 billion, as Beijing seeks to energize the economy.
The announcement fuelled investor hopes the world's growth engine may get a lift in the fourth quarter of the year and beyond.
"The subsidy program will help save 31.3 billion kilowatt-hours (kwh) of electricity every year and drive sales of the energy-saving products by 155.6 billion yuan ($24.5 billion)," the official said.
China has around 130 million desktop computers, which consume 31.2 billion kwh of electricity every year, Xinhua said, adding that the annual power consumption of air-conditioners reach 350 billion kwh.
Xinhua said the power consumption of fans, pumps, compressors and transformers accounted for 40 percent of total energy use in 2011, but they were only 80 percent as efficient as those in developed countries.
China has subsidized energy-efficient products since 2009. It extended the scheme to five types of home appliances - air conditioners, flat-panel televisions, refrigerators, washing machines and water heaters - from June 1 this year.
Xinhua said the subsidy policy had boosted sales of energy efficient products by over 600 billion yuan and saved 28 billion kwh of electricity each year since 2009.
The report did not say when the program would start.
(Reporting by Nick Edwards; editing by Jason Neely)
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