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Chinese lawmakers, cabinet officials discuss poverty alleviation   2013-12-29 13:20:00

  BEIJING, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- Members of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) on Friday questioned State Council officials on rural poverty alleviation work while deliberating a report.

  "During our field study, we learned that the state-designated 'poverty counties' enjoy many favorable policies and fiscal support. Therefore, they have no incentive to remove the 'poverty county' title. Rather, they enjoy their status quo in order to continue enjoying the favorable policies. My question is how to change this phenomenon," said Gu Shengzu, a member of the NPC Standing Committee.

  Gu posed the question to Liu Yongfu, director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, as lawmakers deliberated a report on China's rural poverty alleviation work.

  Liu Yongfu delivered the report on Wednesday at a bimonthly session of the NPC Standing Committee.

  According to the report, there are still nearly 100 million people living under the poverty line in rural China. The Central Government earmarked about 300 billion yuan for poverty relief work in 2012. This means that each farmer living under the poverty line could receive about 3,000 yuan of poverty relief funding each year.

  China began nationwide poverty relief work in 1986 by setting the poverty line and designating "key poverty counties."

  "Key poverty counties" are given special poverty-alleviation funding and enjoy favorable policies in aspects including finance, education and medicare. By 2011, China had 592 "key poverty counties," Liu said.

  Thanks to those poverty-alleviation policies and funds, many "key poverty counties," especially resource-rich counties, have realized significant economic growth. However, they have been reluctant to remove the title of "key poverty county" for fear of losing those favorable policies and funds, Liu said.

  Liu said an unreasonable official performance assessment system should be blamed for the situation, adding that officials were merely pursuing GDP growth, but turned a blind eye to poverty-alleviation work. In many places, economic figures appear perfect, but ordinary citizens have not yet received tangible benefits.

  The State Council promulgated a document in December urging reform of the performance assessment system of officials, which has listed enhanced living standards for poverty-affected residents as a major work target for officials, Liu said.

  Given the fundamental role of education in alleviating poverty, Chen Xiurong, a member of the NPC Standing Committee asked Lu Xin, deputy Minister of Education, to explain the Ministry's measures to improve education quality in poverty-stricken areas.

  Lu said educational departments are taking measures to build more boarding schools in remote areas, allocate more funds to guarantee compulsory education and improve the quality of students' meals.

  Distance education has been adopted to make quality education accessible in poor areas, she said, adding that the Education Ministry has stipulated an outline aiming to improve living standards of children in poverty-hit areas to the national average by 2020.

  Lawmaker Liu Zhenwei, who just wrapped up a field study on poverty alleviation work in six provinces, held that it is better to help poverty-hit areas develop suitable industry to realize sustainable development than to give fiscal funding.

  Liu asked Guo Qingping, assistant governor of the People's Bank of China, how to improve financial services in poor areas.

  In response to the question, Guo said big banks will be encouraged to open branches in remote poor areas.

  More village banks and small-loan companies will also be launched in those areas, said Guo.

  In nearly 100 minutes, about ten lawmakers posed questions to officials from different State Council departments.

  In recent years, the top legislature has often invited State Council officials to attend inquiry meetings during its bimonthly sessions, in which lawmakers interact with cabinet officials on issues of concern.

  Inquiry meetings were held three times in 2013. The two other meetings were on the topics of contagious disease prevention and the use of research and development funds.

source : Xinhua     editor:: Liao Shuman
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