Housing and healthcare reform helps improve lives

10:17, April 28, 2010      

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The Heilongjiang provincial government is investing billions in housing projects and healthcare in an effort to improve local livelihoods.

Liu Xiaodong used to live in a shantytown in Qiqihar, but this was demolished to make way for new buildings. Liu and his family, who have a low income, got a new apartment subsidized by the government.

"We had to walk like half an hour to find a public toilet before (in the shanty town)," he said. "The spacious and bright house we have now is unbelievable."

Liu and his family are among millions of people benefiting from a series of large-scale property projects.

The province plans to invest billions to improve the living conditions of people with low incomes.

Over 61.6 billion yuan has been earmarked this year to renovate shanty towns and old cottages, according to the Provincial Development and Reform Commission.

Statistics from the Provincial Commission of Housing and Urban-rural Development show that over 540,000 households with low incomes have benefited from projects in urban and rural areas this year.

A series of corresponding facilities to supply electricity and heating are also underway.

The large-scale renovation project also gives a boost to related industries such as construction materials and the catering industry.

"These projects not only help the development of the real estate and construction industry but also drive the growth of local businesses," said Yang Zhanbao, director of the commission.

During a meeting last week, Li Zhanshu, governor of Heilongjiang province, urged officials to give renovation projects top priority.

"The improvement of people's livelihood should be top of our agenda," he said.

The provincial government aims to achieve gross domestic product of 1 trillion yuan and revenue in excess of 100 billion yuan in 2010.

The province also plans to improve the medical system to cover a wider group of rural people. Several village and community clinics will be built.

Liu Renfa, a villager of Huitou village in Wangkui county, said he had to take a long-distance bus to the capital, Harbin, for check-ups on his chronic heart condition.

"Now, I can get medical checks at hospitals in the county and sometimes, the doctors from the county hospital will come to my village," he said.

A new cooperative medical insurance scheme now helps to cover part of the medical fees, as part of the government's medical reform plan.

Source: China Daily


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