BEIJING, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- China's cabinet set a timetable for reform of the country's pricing mechanism on Thursday.
China will lift price controls over basically all goods and services in competitive sectors by 2017, according to guidelines released by the State Council.
By then, government-set prices will only exist for key utility services, public-good programs and network industries featuring natural monopolies, such as electricity and water supply.
By 2020, China should have a sound pricing mechanism in which the market plays a decisive role, rational and transparent pricing regulations and a well-enforced anti-monopoly law.
Pricing reform has moved swiftly in recent years, with price controls over medicine, telecommunications and transportation relaxed.
Last month, a State Council executive meeting decided to reduce the categories of government-set prices from 13 to seven, bringing the total number of items subject to price restrictions down from nearly 100 to 20.
Six major areas were highlighted: energy, environment, farm produce, health care, public services and transportation.
China will lift oil price controls at a due time, and speed up removal controls on natural gas.
Higher charging standards for waste disposal will push enterprises to cut pollution discharge, and more incentives will be offered for sewage recycling.
More independent pricing by operators in rail, highways, airline and harbors will be realized. Railway ticket prices will be decided by train speed and service quality. Charging systems for parking fees and cab fares will be improved.
More private investment is expected in public services. Charges in this sector will be clearly defined and managed, especially in schools and nursing homes, the guidelines said.