Select local governments can issue bond debt under a trial program announced Thursday by the Chinese government, the Wall Street Journal reported. Municipal governments in Shanghai and Shenzhen and provincial governments in Guangdong and Zhejiang will be able to issue 3- and 5-year bonds up to a quota to be set by the central government. The policy shift could mitigate mounting bank debt for local authorities by allowing them to issue bonds in order to meet immediate obligations to banks. Total local government debt by the end of 2010 was estimated to be 21% of GDP, with much of the borrowing directed toward infrastructure projects. Analysts predict that the program will be expanded to less-developed areas if the trial is successful. The program could also decrease reliance on local land sales to make up for budget shortfalls.