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China to push ahead with price reforms in key sectors: Xinhua

[BEIJING] China will push ahead with price reforms of water, oil, gas, electricity and transportation, state news agency Xinhua reported on Thursday, citing guidance issued by the country's Cabinet.

China's government aims to "basically liberalise" prices in competitive sectors by 2017, Xinhua reported.

Beijing has long considered proposals to reform a wide swathe of state-dominated sectors, with scrutiny mounting over the rigid pricing mechanisms that the government uses to regulate the oil and gas markets.

An urgent fix is particularly needed for the natural gas market, analysts say, as flagging demand is threatening China's push to use more of the fuel to lower emissions and fight pollution.

The government has said it would also begin new pilot schemes to let power generators and users decide prices themselves and would expose power plants to more market forces.

Prices for water would also be more market-driven in a bid to prevent waste, given rising shortages.

Policymakers will choose an "appropriate time" for liberalising fuel prices, the news agency reported, and will continue implementing the lowest price policy for rice and wheat.

The document was jointly issued by China's Cabinet, or the State Council, and the ruling Communist Party, Xinhua reported.