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Bumper year for city infrastructure

Shanghai has begun 12 billion yuan (US$1.76 billion) worth of major infrastructure projects this year and will make an even bigger investment in public facilities next year, government officials said yesterday.


Shen Xiaosu, deputy director of the Shanghai Construction and Transport Commission, said some major projects previously scheduled to start after 2010 will be brought forward to start next year in an effort to boost domestic demand.


Shen said the city plans to invest even larger amounts in expanding the Metro system and the highways, plus projects to improve environmental conditions in Shanghai. The exact value of investment was not announced.


Construction of Shanghai's Metro Line 12 also started yesterday and is expected to go into operation in 2012, the city's Metro authority said.


The southwest-to-northeast line will have 31 stations, all underground, from Qixin Road in Minhang District to Jinhai Road in Pudong New Area.


Chen Qiwei, spokesman for the Shanghai municipal government, said the local government will carry out a subsidy package to ease employment pressure, which is expected to worsen next year due to the economic downturn.


Companies will be compensated for accepting formerly unemployed locals. Job seekers, especially college students, will be offered financial assistance for enrolling in vocational training programs.


Chen said the government has spent 525 million yuan on building homes for seniors this year and increased the city's capacity to nearly 80,000 beds catering for seniors.


That is still not enough, due to the vast numbers of elderly and aging residents, officials said.


(Shanghai Daily December 31, 2008)