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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 08:37, March 09, 2005
Premier Wen's report comforts Chinese by down-to-earth measures
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A series of policies in the government's work report, delivered by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the ongoing annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), including exempting agriculture taxes and the tuition of poor rural children, have made many Chinese families feel hopeful for the coming year.

The report was hailed by local media for being down to earth and "putting people first."

The Chinese government will exempt 592 poverty-stricken counties from agriculture tax this year and the policy will expand to the whole country in 2006, the report said.

In 2004, the country began preferential policies for farmers, such as giving them subsidies for growing grain. The ever most 260 billion yuan (31.44 billion US dollars) of the central budget had gone to rural areas last year.

"I was worried that such a good policy would not happen this year. And now I am completely relieved," said Dong Zhenyang, a farmer living in Gaoling town in Yantai, a city in eastern China's Shandong Province. His hometown had enacted its own agriculture tax-free policy last year.

Zhang Hetian, the head of Xiujiang village at Ji'an in east China's Jiangxi Province, felt similar relief as Dong, when he heard about the premier's report.

"I have a kind of indescribable ease because I no longer need to go from door to door to get people to pay their taxes," he said.

The policy will not only save the village 67,000 yuan (8,101 US dollars) a year but also save officials' work. Zhang said he will spend more time on collective projects.

Children from poor families in the 592 impoverished counties will not need to pay for books and other fees and will receive government subsidies if they go to boarding schools from this year, the report said. The policy will cover every rural child by 2007.

"The premier's report eradicated my worry about my grandson's education," said Chen Yichang, who has to bring up the little boy by only his wife's 300-yuan (36.28 US dollars) monthly pension after his son divorced.

Guangchang county in Jiangxi Province, where Chen lives, reported an average per capita income of less than 1,200 yuan (145.1 US dollars) per year. About 20 percent of students could hardly afford the tuition, and 6 percent dropped out, according to the local government.

The dropout rate has reduced to 1 to 2 percent since the government began giving free books, canceled additional fees and granted special subsidies last year.

The premier's report also promised to improve coal mine safety and to invest 3 billion yuan (362.76 million US dollars) in updating security technologies of state-owned coal mines in 2005.

Three large coal mine accidents, taking place in October and November last year and February this year, killed 528 people.

Xing Jisheng, whose father works for a state-owned coal mine in north China's Shanxi Province, has suffered from the continuous coal mine blasts. He listened to this part of the Premier report carefully.

"I felt easier after learning that the Premier placed so much importance on the security of coal miners," he said.

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