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Guizhou Plans Living Allowance for the Poor

China's poorest province has promised to ensure the basic needs of food and clothing for its 2.55 million impoverished people by providing living allowance.

Each of the 2.55 million rural residents in southwest China's Guizhou Province, who live below the poverty line of 700 yuan (US$92) a year, were expected to receive a half-year living allowance ranging from 60 yuan to 250 yuan (US$33) by the end of this year, said Liu Yuankun, director of the provincial development and reform commission.

The program would need at least 153 million yuan (US$20 million) and the government had allocated 180 million yuan (US$23.8 million) so far, said Liu.

Local officials began to investigate the living conditions of the farmers in July and they were still calculating the total amount of fund required for the program.

From next year, each farming household was expected to get quarterly allowance ranging from 30 yuan to 125 yuan based on their actual living conditions.

The move is aimed at helping the 2.55 million in absolute poverty, about 10 percent of the country's total according to the government's standard of poverty, to get adequate food and clothing and alleviate destitution.

During an inspection tour of Guizhou last month, Vice Premier Hui Liangyu called for the need to increase farmers' incomes steadily and maintain agricultural development.

Hui said the government must continue to increase its investment in poverty relief and expand the minimum living allowance system in the vast countryside.

The number of the absolute poor in Guizhou has dropped to 2.55 million, about 8.9 percent of the province's total population from 15 million in 1986, when China launched the poverty-relief campaign.

The number of people earning less than 683 yuan (US$90) a year, the government poverty line, has fallen by more than 100 million to 23.65 million since 1986.

The Chinese government has pledged to cut the number of people in absolute poverty in rural areas by three million this year.

(China Daily October 19, 2007)

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