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|Monday, July 23, 2001, updated at 09:54(GMT+8)|
Chinese Premier Urges Steady Progress of Rural Tax Reform
While on an inspection tour of east China's Anhui province from July 18 to 21, Zhu said that the reform, which is underway on a trial basis in the province, will be a long and difficult job.
He said the reform represents a profound social change, which will directly affect not only the farmers' interests but also reform of rural and township governments and the local economic conditions.
Early reports have indicated that when the reform in finished, Chinese farmers will turn in 50 billion yuan of agricultural tax and no additional fees, compared to the 30 billion yuan in tax in the past, 60 billion yuan in fees to village-level administrations, and some 30 billion more wantonly levied by local officials under assorted names.
According to Zhu, at this time, the reform should tackle a series of problems stemming from the drop in grain purchase price, farmers' diminishing means to increase their incomes, and widespread financial difficulties in villages.
The success of the reform will rest on the dramatic reduction of farmers' economic burden, and the guarantee of enough funding for village operation, he said.
Zhu also stressed that the reform should ensure there is enough funding for rural compulsory education, and that the local governments should explore ways to improve their education situation.
He asked local governments to make sure that teachers' salaries are paid on time, and deteriorating school buildings be repaired.
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