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Improving Quality of Life a Priority in Shenzhen

As Shenzhen became the first mainland city to pass the benchmark of US$10,000 per capita gross domestic product (GDP) last year, improving the quality of life for residents has been first on the city government's agenda.

"It has been the top mission of the government to improve people's lives," said Mayor Xu Zongheng in a recent press conference.

The government then decided to spend three-fourths of the general fund in its annual fiscal budget, about 55.5 billion yuan, on public services, 2.7 percent more than last year, according to Xu.

"The government's funding will cover a wide range of areas, including healthcare, education, social security, culture, sports and transportation," he told reporters. "I believe the completion of these projects will greatly benefit the whole society and people can live more happily in the city."

"As long as we keep up our efforts, our city will become one of the best Chinese cities with superior social welfare."

The mayor said the government would concentrate its efforts in social welfare in 2008 on:

Improving residents' income.

The per capita disposable income of residents reached 24,870 yuan last year, up nearly 10 percent from 22,567 yuan in 2006, leading medium and large-sized cities nationwide.

After considering ways to establish equitable income distribution, the city is promoting salary negotiations between the employers and employees to improve the salaries of the low-wage workers.

The government will strengthen supervision over abnormal market fluctuations and strictly control prices of key commodities and services that impact daily life.

Creating new job opportunities and helping find jobs.

The government will issue employment policies to encourage residents to start their own businesses. It aims to help 80 percent of communities in Shenzhen become free of laid-off workers this year.

For people who are living under the minimum living standard, the government will improve its employment aid system to ensure at least one person in a family has a job.

Balancing educational services.

The city will allocate more resources to develop vocational education to train skilled professionals.

It will also accelerate construction of a new university and expand the existing Shenzhen University to improve the city's academic performance.

Improving public healthcare services.

Construction on four city-level hospitals will start this year and next year to provide convenient and high-quality medical services to the residents in all six districts of Shenzhen.

The government will establish and improve community healthcare facilities and deepen reform of the medical system.

Improving the social security system.

The government will deepen reforms in the social security system and continue to expand its coverage. The medical insurance system is expected to cover more than 7.6 million adults and 400,000 children this year.

It will also subsidize disabled people with 20 million yuan a year for social security benefits.

To help the elderly and the disabled, the government will encourage development of charity organizations and improve the system for donations.

It will also work on policies to better solve housing demands of low- and medium-income residents, with more than 20 percent of the total housing supply earmarked for those groups this year.

Maintaining social harmony and stability.

The city will enhance the management of public security and crack down crime to create a safe society.

It will also improve population management services and promote the residence permit system to gradually replace the concept of registered permanent residence. Residence permit holders in Shenzhen will then enjoy the same facilities and treatment in employment, living standards and education for their children as holders of registered permanent residence.

(China Daily May 8, 2008)

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