China is confronted with three major difficulties in poverty alleviation with a still heavy task, said Gao Hongbin, deputy director of the Office of Leading Group for Poverty Alleviation & Development at a seminar on the economic growth favorable to the poor of East Asia on May 18.
First, poverty-stricken population remains large.
Currently, the nation's poverty incidence has dropped to three percent, but the number of absolute poor is still large. At the end of 2004, there were still 26.10 million people in rural areas whose clothing and food problems have yet to be solved.
Second, there has been a sharp slowdown in the reduction of poverty-stricken population.
In the 1980s, 13.70 million people in rural areas across the country were relieved out of poverty averagely each year and 6.2 million in the 1990s. However, it fell to 1.5 million in the 21st century. The reason lies in the weak capability of those who have got rid of poverty in the resistance to natural disasters and the prevention of risks.
Third, the income gap between the poor and other people is widening.
The gap of the upper limit of income between the poverty-stricken population and ordinary farmers widened from 1:2.54 in 1992 to 1: 4.39 in 2004.
Four major measures to promote "economic growth favorable to the poor"
Gao said, with four major measures to promote "economic growth favorable to the poor", China has made remarkable achievement.
First, strengthen macro-regulation, increase the investment in agriculture and rural areas to further relieve farmers' burden and increase of farmers' incomes. The central government spent RMB 262.6 billion yuan on agriculture, rural areas and farmers, which brought rare benefits to farmers. Since 2005, agricultural tax has been exempted in all the 592 key counties included in the national plan for poverty alleviation.
Second, boost poverty reduction and development in rural areas and improve poor farmers' capability in self-accumulation and self-development.
The country selected 260 leading enterprises for poverty reduction as a driving force in economic restructuring and promoting the increase of farmers' incomes in poverty-stricken areas with the support of preferential policies such as subsidized loan and reduction and exemption of tax.
Third, increase policy support and financial input in middle and western regions to promote the development of various social undertakings.
Starting this year, students from poor farmers' families receiving compulsory education in key counties included in the national plan for poverty alleviation through development will be provided with free textbooks and exempted from miscellaneous fees, and those staying on campus will receive living allowances.
Strengthen the training for poor labor forces for them to find new jobs. Moreover, the pilot project for a new system of cooperative medical and health care services in rural areas is steadily underway.
Fourth, implement the project for the employment of urban residents and further improve the social security system.
Continue to implement the policy on the guarantee of subsistence allowances, raise the basic living standards of the retirees from enterprises and promote and improve the pilot campaign on urban social security system.
Delegates from various countries to the seminar on May 18 spoke highly of the efforts of the Chinese government.
By People's Daily Online