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China Boosts Subsidies for People Affected by Natural Disasters

China's state Council has agreed to raise subsidies for people affected by natural disasters, saying the country was seeing worse than average problems this year.

At an executive meeting Wednesday presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, the State Council raised the subsidy for rebuilding a room destroyed in a natural disaster from 600 to 1,500 yuan.

Families who were permanently relocated from flood areas would receive a payment of 20,400 yuan, up from 15,000 yuan.

State Councilors also agreed that appropriate subsidies be given to people affected by severe droughts, and funds allocated for recovering agricultural production and livestock quarantine.

More funds would be allocated for medical aid and disease prevention.

The government, which has already earmarked 6.7 billion yuan for natural disaster prevention and relief, will allocate another 11.54 billion yuan for the new subsidy levels.

A fund for the reinforcement of reservoirs was also approved.

State Councilors were told China experienced an abnormal climate and frequent extreme weather this year, triggering a range of disasters simultaneously. The intensity and frequency of rainfall, floods and droughts in some areas reached record levels. 

The executive stressed that natural disaster relief had a direct bearing on national economic and social conditions. Local governments were instructed to fully implement all disaster relief policies.

The meeting stressed that China is currently still in the flood season. The Yellow River and the Haihe River valleys are still experiencing intensive rainfalls. Droughts in south China and northeast China are still lingering. Typhoons are prone to occur.

Natural disasters monitoring and early warning must be strengthened. Major embankments and reservoirs must be reinforced. And preparations for resisting mud-and-rock flows, typhoons and droughts must be in full swing, according to the meeting.

Agricultural production should be resumed as soon as possible. Irritation and other infrastructural facilities must be repaired immediately.

Departments concerned must make every effort to help rebuild homes for disaster affected citizens and disaster relief fund must be properly used in a frugal and efficient manner.

(Xinhua News Agency August 16, 2007)

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