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BMU Broschüre zum Thema Atomkraft

Aktuelle BMU Broschüre:

Titel: Atomkraft: Ein teurer Irrweg

"Die Mythen der Atomwirtschaft"

Sollte Deutschland wieder auf Atomkraft setzen? Der Konflikt um Erdgaslieferungen aus Russland und steigende Strom- und Energiepreise haben die Debatte über die Zukunft der Atomenergie in Deutschland erneut entfacht. Aber sichert Atomenergie wirklich unsere Energieversorgung? Trägt sie zum Klimaschutz bei? Und rechnen sich neue Atomkraftwerke? Das Bundesumweltministerium gibt Antworten.

24.3.06 08:44

Aktuelle Studie zu China

Aktuelle Berichte zur ökonomischen und politischen Entwicklung in China finden sich in der neuen Ausgabe des Economist.

"A few opponents of land reform in the countryside say they are acting in the rural population's own interests. They point to the lack of social-security provisions for peasants. Though peasants have limited control over the land they farm, in most cases it can at least help to feed them.

The weakness of this argument is that forced appropriations by local governments have already deprived as many as 40m peasants of some or all of their land since the early 1990s, with little or no compensation. Besides, the best way to secure the welfare of the peasants is not to keep them trapped on underworked land but to spend more directly on services for the poor. With strong revenue growth, a low budget deficit and a booming economy, China can afford this. Compensating peasants for appropriated land on the basis of market values, not just minimal agricultural ones, would help too. And introducing a value-based property tax would persuade local governments to worry less about losing the one-off revenues they now enjoy from the sale of land rights.

It would be disingenuous to deny that land reform will loosen party control in the long run. A decade ago almost all urban housing was owned by the state. In one of the most dramatically successful economic reforms of the past quarter century in China, most is now privately owned. This has fostered the growth of a middle class that wants guarantees that its new assets are safe from the party's whims. Property owners are electing their own landlord committees—independent of the party—to protect their rights. A new breed of lawyers, not party stooges as most once were, is emerging to defend those whose properties are threatened by the state. Property owners want a clean environment around their homes. Green activism, which hardly existed in China a decade ago, is spurring the development of a civil society. "

"Even so, China's Communist Party has shown that it will take big risks if economic development demands them. Hence the widespread closure and privatisation of state-owned enterprises in the past decade, with the loss of millions of jobs. The leadership knows that China's history has been one of recurring bloody upheavals by landless peasants; it is caught between wanting to retain control and wanting to avoid another upheaval. This is the moment to complete the unfinished business of rural reform."

24.3.06 07:57

Rural development in China - from the economist.com

IN HIS annual state-of-the nation address to the National People's Congress, the Chinese parliament that meets for only ten days a year, China's prime minister, Wen Jiabao, set out what he described as a “major historic task”. The aim, he said, was to bring about rapid and significant change in rural areas, which have lagged far behind the booming urban ones and witnessed growing unrest. But although Mr Wen pledged more spending to build what Beijing is nowadays calling a “new socialist countryside”, he offered few durable remedies. A new five-year plan suggests that the rural-urban divide may remain just as wide at the end of the decade.

Speaking on March 5th, Mr Wen was blunt about China's many difficulties. His list included continuing overheating of investment in factories, machinery and other fixed assets; rising inventories and falling prices; a decline in corporate profits and mounting losses that were creating “greater potential financial risks”. But his speech focused on what has lately become the Communist Party's much proclaimed mission of addressing rural China's woes.

None of the problems on Mr Wen's list appears to pose any immediate threat to the country's high-speed development. Mr Wen predicted that GDP should grow this year by 8%. But officials have a tendency to underestimate, fearing that higher targets might encourage reckless investment. Many expect something closer to last year's 9.9%. The new five-year plan makes an even more modest prediction of 7.5% annual growth, on average, through to 2010. But the double-digit targets already set by some local governments suggest fewer inhibitions.

Despite the hype, Mr Wen's remedies for the countryside contained little new. They included the scrapping of agricultural tax this year, extending an experimental health-care insurance scheme to 40% of counties and the elimination by the end of next year of tuition and other fees for rural students receiving compulsory education. Central-government spending on rural areas for everything from health care to subsidies for grain producers is to increase by 14.2% this year to 340 billion yuan ($42 billion). And government spending on infrastructure will be shifted towards rural areas. More will be spent on projects such as rural roads, water and power supplies, schools and hospitals.

These measures do not herald any remarkable policy shift. Central-government spending on the countryside will still amount to only 8.9% of total government expenditure, up from last year's 8.8% but down from 9.2% in 2004. Abolishing the agricultural tax and other fees imposed on peasants will save each rural dweller an average of 156 yuan ($19) a year—about 4.8% of net income. But despite promised transfers of 103 billion yuan annually to fill the resulting hole in local finances, it is not clear that these funds will be sufficient. A quarter of the money is supposed to come from local governments, which may well have other plans for it.

To compensate for the abolition of school fees, the government will spend an extra 218 billion yuan on rural schools over the next five years. Mr Wen said a way of sharing this between central and local governments would be worked out “gradually”. But even if governments at various levels can agree on a formula, it is not clear whether this money will make up for the whole shortfall.

How much more will be spent on rural infrastructure is also unclear. As usual in China, the spending detail is mostly secret. The budget report put last year's central government spending on rural infrastructure at 81.3 billion yuan. But it gave no figure for 2006. Even the proposed 14.2% increase in total central spending on all rural projects is not that remarkable. It is only a little higher than the projected increase of 13.8% in all government spending (central and local) this year. And the increase is smaller than the 14.7% rise, to 281 billion yuan, planned in military spending in 2006. (True military expenditure is much higher, say western analysts.)

The government certainly has the ability to spend more. Total government revenues have been growing strongly. Last year they increased by nearly 20% and are predicted to rise by 12% this year. The target for the budget deficit is a manageable 1.5% of GDP in 2006, down from 1.6% last year.

However, spending can only be one part of a solution to the complex woes of the rural areas. Many of these stem from a system of inter-governmental fiscal transfers that place enormous burdens on low-level governments to finance public services. They are aggravated by a system that shares tax revenues between central and provincial governments to the benefit of the richer regions. The peasants are at a further disadvantage in that they do not have clear legal title to their fields, making them vulnerable to the whims of developers. Mr Wen called for strengthened resolve to “accelerate all reforms”. But central and local leaders dispute how best to tackle such issues, and Mr Wen provided no details about how he expects them to resolve their differences.

Given that some 200m rural Chinese have little or no work, one way to spread wealth would be to let them to take more productive jobs in urban areas. But China's leaders, and many town-dwellers, are already anxious about the numbers flowing into the cities. Such fears would increase if the remaining barriers to migration were suddenly removed. The plan predicts only a modest increase in officially allowed migrant numbers, from an annual average of 8m in the last five years to 9m in the next. Even if the true number is much higher, this is only the smallest of escape valves in the great political pressure-cooker that is China's troubled countryside.
20.3.06 04:37

The Future of Aid

for interesting links, discussions and comments see:
LINK-Future of Aid
20.3.06 04:13


Welcome to this new forum for sharing information and discussing issues in the environmental and development sector. Let me briefly introduce myself.

My name is Markus Knoepfle, I'm 32 years old and I'm working as a CIM Integrated Expert at Hefei University, Anhui Province, PR China as Advisor for Environmental Management and Technology Transfer. I received a degree in Forestry (Dipl.-Ing. (FH) and in Business and Economics (Dipl.-Kfm.). My majors where Environmental Management, Resource Economics and Finance.

Since my professional focus is on China at the moment I'm taking particular care on topics regarding China in this newsletter, but always try to keep the eyes open what is elswhere going on. Hope you will find the content interesting. Comments are always welcome.

The picture displays charcaol producers in Uganda, where I did a survey on charcaol consumption in Kampala in summer 2004.
15.3.06 05:22

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