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English>>China Society

Wenzhou aims to cut red tape for charities

By YU RAN  (China Daily)

08:29, November 16, 2012

Wenzhou authorities have vowed to simplify licensing procedures for charity groups that want to offer residents free food and drink.

The city in Zhejiang province, one of China's richest, has a centuries-old tradition of altruism, and today it has at least 1,600 small, independently run street stalls that provide passers-by with simple dishes or tea.

But since the city government introduced a permit requirement early this year to standardize the sector, just one group has successfully applied.

"We wanted to run our charity like an enterprise, with a legal representative and accountant," said Zhang Xianding, 74, one of three retired businessmen behind Zhuangyuanting, which was licensed in April.

His nonprofit stall has been giving away congee in Longwan district since March, and has since received more than 600,000 yuan ($96,200) in public donations.

"With help from the city's civil affairs bureau, we've got an accountant, gone from eight volunteers to 86, and can now give invoices (approved by the tax authorities) to donors," Zhang said.

According to Su Benyun, deputy director of civil affairs in Longwan, his office carries out regular inspections to ensure the stall is safe and fair.

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