Officials seek to regulate Yushu quake donations

08:47, August 04, 2010      

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The central authorities have urged charities outside Northwest China's Qinghai province to transfer all donations for the Yushu earthquake to civil affairs authorities in the province, which was hit by a 7.1-magnitude quake this April, so the money could be used collectively.

A circular on the management and use of relief funds for the Yushu earthquake jointly released over the weekend by five central government departments including the Ministry of Civil Affairs, requires 15 national philanthropic organizations to turn over the quake-relief funds they collected to Qinghai civil affairs department, Red Cross Society of China or China Charities Federation in Qinghai.

The circular says the move is meant to better use and trace donations.

According to figures from the National Audit Office, quake-relief money and materials for Yushu from home and abroad is worth approximately 10.66 billion yuan ($1.57 billion). Of this, nearly 9.84 billion yuan had not been spent as of July 9.

Officials from the Red Cross Society of China and China Charities Federation, which have received funds of more than 2 billion yuan for Yushu quake, had confirmed they would transfer the donations to the relevant agencies in Qinghai, while at least 10 publicly-funded foundations had not shown similar indications, the Guangzhou-based 21st Century Business Herald reported on Tuesday.

An insider of the China Children and Teenagers Fund expressed doubts that the decision to pool the social donations could be realized "as we've made our aid schedule and allocated funds for relief projects soon after the earthquake occurred", the person told China Daily on the condition of anonymity. (The fund itself is on the list of 15 social organizations in the regulation).

"But I admit it would be more difficult and costly to carry out relief work without the help of local government."

Ge Daoshun, a professor of social policy with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said that, in this case, good intentions could be upended by reality.

"The central authorities' regulation is to accumulate social resources and then use them more efficiently," he said. "But the result may not be so ideal if nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are squeezed out in the process of decision making and implementation of disaster relief work."

"We should respect donors' will on who and how to use the donated funds," he said. "People choose to give money to charities or foundations because they believe NGOs have their advantages - especially for their focus on the disadvantaged."

An integrated reconstruction plan, said Ge, is essential, and can be used to avoid overlapping of work. NGOs, businesses and even individuals, he added, should be encouraged to get involved in the process.

By He Dan, China Daily


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