China's rural poor look set
to benefit from a basic living allowance to be launched this
Vice Minister of Civil Affairs Li Liguo told a press
conference on the sidelines of the NPC session yesterday the system would finally
put the country's vast rural poor population under the social
Premier Wen Jiabao, in his government work report
delivered at this year's NPC session, pledged to use the national
budget to fund a financial aid program for people in poor rural
Li said a series of pilot projects had been completed
and the social security program was ready to be rolled
"This is a huge decision made by the central
government concerning people's lives and would benefit millions of
poor people," he said.
The system has been set up in 2,133 counties covering
more than 15 million rural poor people, Li said.
Li said the ministry would set the standard and scope
of minimum living allowance for different regions, in accordance
with "local economic and financial conditions."
The central government would allocate 3 billion yuan
(US$387 million) once budgets were approved by NPC
China finished work on a
basic cost of living allowances system for urban residents in 2002
and the allowance standard has been steadily increasing yearly, Li
"Basically, the urban system can now ensure that all
those qualified for the allowance can get it," he said.
The standard would also be raised once any consumption
prices fluctuate temporarily to fit the need of the poor, Li
Those with serious illnesses or disability are
entitled to have more allowances.
Jobseeking assistance is also provided for people
In other developments, Li said the ministry is trying
to set up an online dossier for the homeless and beggars
China now has more than
1,200 social assistance stations and 130 assistance and protection
centers for vagrant children.
Last year, 2.1 million people received temporary
assistance from these stations, of which more than 100,000 were
children, Li said.
"The online system would help us check the identity of
them to see whether they are eligible for assistance and to contact
their relatives for future repatriation to their home," Li
(China Daily March 14,