Beijing: Holding a live chat with Chinese ‘netizens’, China Premier Wen Jiabao promised steps to reduce growing income disparities along with bringing down spiraling prices and providing affordable housing.

The chat took place on Sunday, hours ahead of scheduled "protests" called by overseas dissident group on an internet website.

Ensuring that fair income distribution will be an important task of the government as it has direct bearing on social justice and fairness as well as social stability, Wen said.

During the past two years Wen began holding annual live chat with netizens ahead of the session of the country's legislature, National People's Congress, (NPC).

The website Buxon.com called for "strolling" protests in 18 cities on Sunday and Chinese police had made elaborate security measures to deal with them, including cautioning foreign media about rules governing coverage in China.

China's development blueprint for the coming five years will place high emphasis on the efforts to improve people's livelihood, he said speaking on the live chat conducted by official Xinhua news agency.

Greater efforts will be made to boost social development and progress, especially in those key sectors and aspects concerning national development and mass interests, the premier said.

In order to focus on livelihood issues, the government is going to focus less on GDP and more on improving people’s incomes, he said.

The central government would adopt new performance evaluation criteria for local governments and give more weightage to efficiency, environment protection and the people's living standards, he said.

He said he attaches greater importance to two other figures: the proportion of education expenditure in GDP and the proportion of scientific RandD expenditure in production.

He said the country will build more high-quality rural schools and take measures to make the nine-year compulsory education in cities more accessible to migrant workers' children.

The Cabinet, would discuss a plan to raise the threshold of personal income tax.

The plan, if implemented, would benefit China's whole medium and low-income groups, Wen said while answering a netizen' online question about tax payment.

He reiterated his determination to tame the country's runaway housing prices and promised to control the inflation which during the previous months reached 5.1 per cent.

He also promised steps to reduce energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 16 to 17 per cent by 2015 from 2011 levels.


(Agencies)