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08:22, March 04, 2009

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The authorities are stepping up measures to help migrant workers returning to Henan province amid the global economic slowdown, a top official has said.

"At present, more than 3 million of the 21 million migrant population are still at home waiting for jobs in cities, an issue which is at the top of the government's agenda," Xu Guangchun, Party secretary of the province, told Sina.com on Monday.

Henan, one of the country's largest exporters of migrant labor, has witnessed the return of millions of jobless people due to the global economic downturn.

Xu said Henan is facing new challenges this year and it has to deal with the consequences of the drought. He said that some factories closed because of the downturn and that left many migrants jobless.

The government will invest more than 36 billion yuan ($5.3 billion) into areas with migrant workers, such as road construction and medical insurance sectors, to stimulate the local economy, Xu said.

Apart from subsidizing vocational training programs in such areas as welding and information technology, migrant workers are encouraged to pursue jobs in urban areas or start their own businesses by obtaining small loans, Xu said.

The Henan provincial government launched a government-subsidized program that will allow up to 2 million migrants to get 400 to 600 yuan as a short-term training fee.

All the 70 million farmers are guaranteed minimum medical assistance this year, Xu said.

At a Beijing job fair Monday that targeted Henan's migrant workers, more than 300,000 positions were available at 168 companies.

In addition to the severe problems caused by the financial crisis, Henan has suffered from a drought that affected 3.7 million hectares of farmland during its peak on Feb 7, according to the statistics from the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, 15.3 percent of the country's 130 million migrant workers lost their jobs since the end of 2008.

"As long as our country is developing rapidly, more migrant workers will go out and find jobs in urban areas," Xu said.

Source: China Daily

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