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Xinhua Insight: China's eradication of poverty needs a target
Posted: March-9-2014Adjust font size:

    BEIJING, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Poverty is too familar a thing for Zhang Yu, and thus she applauded when Premier Li Keqiang pledged earlier this week to ensure that relief would reach villages and households in the government's poverty alleviation efforts.

    Zhang has seen poverty in its most crude shape: households whose entire belongings are several blankets, a pot for cooking and several bowls.

    Such conditions do not represent the majority of the people in her hometown Qianjiang in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, yet the majority there are just having their basic needs met, said Zhang, a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature.

    She said disease is the major cause for these households' poverty.

    In addition, difficult traffic access is another obstacle.

    "It takes nearly two days for many people living deep in the mountains to bring their agricultural products to town for sale. It is impossible for them to walk out of poverty on their own," said Zhang, head of a farmer cooperative.

    The lawmaker said she hopes the "targeted measures" vowed in Premier Li's government work report delivered to the NPC deputies on Wednesday will one day eventually help those mountain-locked people out of poverty.

    The premier urged local governments to merge poverty alleviation resources to make better use of them and ensure that assistance reaches villages and households.

    Some NPC deputies commented that lack of targeted measures and scattered relief resources previously prevented impoverished families from receiving the full government assistance that has been allocated.

    "Relief funds are not few, but are scattered in different district government departments that require different conditions for receiving funds," said Zhang.

    "As it is difficult to meet all the conditions, the reality is that destitute families cannot receive all the assistance funds," she said.

    According to the latest official statistics, there were 98.99 million people living under the poverty line in China as of 2012.

    China's poverty line is equivalent to less than 1 U.S. dollar a day, lower than the World Bank level of 1.25 U.S. dollars.

    Rural people with an annual net income per capita of 2,300 yuan (337.05 U.S. dollars) or less are classified as poor under the poverty standard adopted in 2011, up from the 1,274-yuan standard used previously.

    But the 98.99 million number is based on a sampling survey of people living under the poverty line, exposing the lack of a nationwide database of all poor people.

    Wang Guoliang, deputy director of a State Council leading group on poverty alleviation, said earlier this year that China's efforts to combat poverty have long been confronted with problems of not having an exact tally of poor people and their current true conditions.

    The problem makes it difficult for the government to find out who the poor people are, why they are poor, how to lift them out of poverty and whether assistance works, he said.

    Jin Chunmei, an NPC deputy and village party secretary from north China's Hebei Province, said there are some developed regions whose poor counties eligible for state poverty relief are even more prosperous than the most developed parts of poor counties receiving poverty relief.

    This fact shows the government does not yet have an accurate picture of regions receiving assistance, resulting in a failure to take targeted measures to help those in real need, Jin said.

    A mechanism should be set up to monitor the development of poor counties to review their eligibility for state poverty relief, Jin said.

    There are 832 counties that receive poverty relief and preferential policies across the country. The list was first introduced in 1986, when 331 counties were on it.

    According to Wang, the government will work to improve its poverty relief policies by accurately identifying the poor population, assigning specific responsibilities to related personnel, and establishing a monitoring system of relief beneficiaries.

    The poor population was reduced by 16.5 million last year, and Premier Li said in his report the government will lift more than 10 million people out of poverty this year, pledging "we will continue to fight poverty and prevent poverty from being passed to future generations."

    As China strives to finish building "a moderately prosperous society in all respects" by 2020, with six years left on the timetable, the most daunting task lies in rural areas.

    At a key conference on economic work last year, the Chinese leadership underscored that farmers hold the key to whether China can achieve the goal.

Source: Xinhua 2014-3-8Editor: tracyliu
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