China allocates $33 billion from sovereign bonds for disaster-hit infrastructure -state media

BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s finance ministry has allocated a first batch of 237.9 billion yuan ($33.38 billion) of funds from sovereign bonds as of Monday, in an effort to support the renovation of infrastructure in areas hit by natural disasters, state media CCTV reported.

The funds were part of a plan unveiled in October when China said it would issue 1 trillion yuan of sovereign bonds to enhance disaster-prevention infrastructure, the report said.

The plan to help rebuild areas hit by this year’s floods and improve urban infrastructure to cope with future disasters has widened China’s 2023 fiscal deficit target to 3.8% of gross domestic product from the original 3%.

The first batch of funds will support more than 2,900 projects, CCTV reported, including 107.5 billion yuan to help with rebuilding and disaster prevention and mitigation.

Another 125.4 billion yuan will be used to subsidise high-standard farmland in the northeastern region and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, and 5 billion yuan will go to major natural disaster prevention and control system projects, CCTV added.

“Once a batch of projects is confirmed, the funds will be allocated in a timely manner,” state media Xinhua reported on Monday, citing Wang Jianfan, the head of budget department at the finance ministry.

“A total of 500 billion yuan under this year’s budget arrangement will be allocated as soon as possible based on project approvals,” according to Xinhua, while another 500 billion yuan will be carried over to next year.

China’s finance ministry did not respond immediately to a Reuters request for comment on when it started issuing the bonds.

China has grappled with weather extremes this year, from ultra-low temperatures in January to record rainfall and a blistering hot summer, in wild swings that scientists attribute to climate change.

Temperatures in parts of China, including in provinces Shanxi, Hebei and Liaoning, hit their lowest levels since records began, CCTV said on Sunday, as a cold snap gripped large swathes of the country.

Northern China, including the capital city of Beijing, were the hardest hit by floods after record rainfall from Typhoon Doksuri in July and August. Southern China, including economic powerhouses Guangdong and Fujian provinces, has been hit by two typhoons since September.

($1 = 7.1274 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Ellen Zhang and Ryan Woo; Editing by Jamie Freed, Kirsten Donovan)