China's 2014 draft central budget for investment programs has increased, but a substantial portion will be used to fund projects in public welfare, a senior official from China's top economic planner said on Wednesday.
"We will allocate 100 billion yuan (16.32 billion U.S. dollars) to support infrastructure projects, or those of comprehensive or strategic importance," said Xu Shaoshi, head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), at a press conference.
Xu made the remarks on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, when commenting on a rise in investment funds in the just-unveiled government draft budget for 2014.
The draft budget submitted to the NPC for review on Wednesday showed this year's funds for investment will increase 20 billion yuan to 457.6 billion yuan, if approved.
Xu said the 100 billion yuan in investment funds will flow into shantytown renovation projects and affordable housing, as well as to benefit agriculture, public utilities, the environment and the development of frontier towns and ethnic minority regions.
In China, the NDRC is in charge of the review and approval of large investment projects receiving central government funds, and the commission is sometimes criticized for bureaucracy and lack of transparency.
"It's important to make every penny count," Xu said, adding that a key solution is to deepen reform in the administrative approval system.
As part of a wider campaign to streamline government administration, a total of 44 items requiring review and approval of the NDRC have been canceled or delegated to lower-level departments, according to Xu. .