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. China to control building material prices in quake areas: govt

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) May 23, 2008
China said Friday it will impose temporary price controls on building materials in areas devastated by the massive May 12 earthquake as it steps up reconstruction to shelter the homeless.

Prices of goods including steel products, cement, glass as well as tents will be controlled by limiting profit margins or setting guideline prices, the National Development and Reform Commission said.

Any price hikes must get prior approval by the government so that "prices of disaster-relief materials are kept stable," the top economic planning agency said in a statement on its website.

It also ordered authorities in affected areas to strengthen monitoring of market prices.

It said it would "firmly crack down" on any hoarding, price collusion, rumour spreading or violation of the price control policy, adding that hotlines for complaints about prices would be open 24 hours a day.

China has since last week imposed temporary price controls on food, water and transport in the areas stricken by the magnitude-8.0 earthquake, which has left more than 80,000 people dead or missing and nearly 5.5 million others homeless.

China had made controlling prices a key priority of its economic policy even before last week's earthquake. Historically, China has seen social unrest at times of mounting inflation.

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UN's Ban gets Myanmar to accept foreign aid
Yangon (AFP) May 23, 2008
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Friday the eyes of the world were now on Myanmar after pushing the secretive military regime to accept a major relief effort for survivors of the cyclone disaster.

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