Questions raised over Sichuan quake funds

09:43, November 25, 2009      

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Some of the funds allocated to rebuild the Sichuan earthquake-hit areas were not distributed fairly, with much of the money benefiting those who were already wealthy, a survey released by the Chinese Academy of Science and Technology (CAST) showed Tuesday.

Up to about 40 percent of the residents feel the poor-rich gap is becoming larger, the poll showed.

"A considerable proportion of residents are questioning the fairness of policy implementation, and 30 percent of the residents believe that unfair cases do exist in the post-disaster policy implementation," Zhao Yandong, the chief of the survey program, deputy director of CAST, said Tuesday in Beijing.

People are unhappy mainly about the material allocation, and the aid from government for various groups in different areas, Zhao said.

"It is noteworthy that public trust and satisfaction towards the grass-root governments decreased significantly compared with last year," he said.

"People also feel the poor-rich gap is becoming larger as they are worried about losing their jobs upon the completion of the reconstruction."

The survey covered 142 communities and 29 temporary settlements with prefabricated shelters.

The survey team successfully interviewed 4,037 households between July 17 and Aug 2.

Also, a survey of 3,000 people was carried out one month after last year's May 12 earthquake.

More than 14,000 responses to the poll questions were collected, representing the 13 million people in the 26 affected counties.

He Guangxi, a researcher with the survey program, yesterday said the unemployment rate is likely to go up upon the completion of the reconstruction in quake-hit areas.

"The current low unemployment rate has much to do with the reconstruction, and many employed residents are in temporary jobs," he told China Daily yesterday.

Nearly 40 percent of interviewees said they had less income than they did before the disaster, he said.

Only 3.2 percent of residents said they received skills training for work, according to the survey.

Some 16 percent said they are employed in long-term, stable work.

About 12.2 percent worry that they will lose their job in two years, and 3.1 percent believe they will lose their jobs upon the completion of the reconstruction projects in the area.

Zhang Huafeng, the survey program's technical advisor who works for Norway-based Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies, yesterday said non-farming family businesses are an important force in driving economic restoration and promoting employment rate in the affected areas.

Family-run businesses could include wholesale and retail businesses, catering, accommodations and beauty salons, she said.

"The survey shows nearly half of the households feel their post-quake business is worsening, and they desperately want support through governmental loans, tax relief and market access," she said.

Source:China Daily
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