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Beijing Earmarks Special Fund to Subsidize University Canteens

The Beijing Municipal Commission of Education is to set aside 25.16 million yuan (US$3.15 million) to subsidize student meals in the city's higher education institutions.

The funding, spread over five months, would offset recent hikes in food costs and keep meal prices stable.

The municipal commission has also urged authorities of different universities and vocational schools to issue temporary subsidies to students from low-income families.

In the meantime, universities and colleges in the capital have been told to ban people from outside their campuses from dining at their canteens.

Food prices climbed 18.2 percent year-on-year in August, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Zhou Ji, Minister of Education, said at a press conference on Wednesday, "The canteen food prices of universities are still stable, but more efforts are needed to maintain them."

He said the soaring prices of foodstuffs had an impact on food supply of university dining halls, but they should continue to guarantee reasonable prices for students.

He urged universities and colleges to intensify efforts to subsidize students from impoverished families.

North China's Heilongjiang province is allocating a daily food subsidy of 2.5 yuan (33 US cents) per person to 25 percent of university students based on family income.

Henan province has set up a direct purchasing system between food supply companies and schools. Northwest China's Shaanxi has ordered universities to subsidize canteens for water, electricity and gas fees.

In the 36 major Chinese cities, the retail price of pork in August soared by 77.6 percent year on year, pushing up the Consumer Price Index (CPI), China's key inflation indicator, to 6.5 percent, the highest monthly rise in 11 years.

(Xinhua News Agency September 13, 2007)

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