China will make it easier for local governments and companies to issue bonds to finance social-housing construction projects, in an effort to ease the funding shortages that are plaguing the program, the Wall Street Journal reported. The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top central planner, said in a statement published on the website of its Anhui branch that it will expedite approval of bond offerings for social housing, and that local governments should give social housing priority over other projects when issuing bonds. The move has raised concerns about exacerbating mounting local government debt; at the end of 2010, there were more than 10,000 local government financing vehicles, accounting for up to 30% of China’s US$7.4 trillion in RMB-denominated loans, according to the central bank. China has pledged to build 10 million social-housing units this year at a total cost of US$201.15 billion. However, central and local governments will contribute only around US$77.37 billion of the total – the rest is supposed to come from “social institutions,” residents and businesses. As of last month, construction had only begun on 30% of the 10 million units targeted for this year, state media reported.