Lo­cal govts told to im­prove over­sight of pub­lic wel­fare

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By SUN XIAOCHEN sunx­i­aochen@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

The cen­tral govern­ment urged lo­cal au­thor­i­ties on Wednes­day to im­prove the liv­ing-al­lowance sys­tem and called for more trans­parency in the im­ple­men­ta­tion process.

Lo­cal govern­ments should ex­am­ine the al­lo­ca­tion of al­lowance quo­tas more strictly while keep­ing re­cip­i­ents’ in­for­ma­tion open so that wel­fare can be tar­geted at those most in need, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment re­leased on Wednes­day af­ter an ex­ec­u­tive meet­ing of the State Coun­cil, China’s Cabi­net.

Re­cent au­dit re­ports have re­vealed is­sues such as poor man­age­ment, mis­use of funds and pol­icy loop­holes, which have ham­pered low-in­come groups’ ben­e­fits, ac­cord­ing to the meet­ing presided over by Premier Li Ke­qiang.

The meet­ing urged rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties and lo­cal govern­ments to en­hance trans­parency by pub­li­ciz­ing the fi­nan­cial sta­tus of ap­pli­cants’ fam­i­lies and ver­i­fy­ing the el­i­gi­bil­ity of those re­ceiv­ing ben­e­fits in a timely man­ner.

It also stressed that so­cial as­sis­tance should be com­bined with med­i­cal care, ed­u­ca­tional aid and hous­ing al­lowances to help those strug­gling in poverty in ur­ban and ru­ral re­gions.

Ex­perts said it is dif­fi­cult to guar­an­tee fair­ness in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of pub­lic as­sis­tance given the lack of su­per­vi­sion and abuse of power in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

“The ba­sic sys­tem of al­lo­cat­ing poverty- re­lief fund quo­tas by lo­cal of­fi­cials should take the blame and be re­formed,” said Yang Tuan, a so­cial pol­icy re­searcher with the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences.

“Due to the lack of an ex­am­in­ing mech­a­nism, com­mu­nity of­fi­cials, es­pe­cially in ru­ral ar­eas, some­times al­lo­cate the quo­tas to rel­a­tives and friends, leav­ing out those re­ally in need.”

To strengthen au­dits on fund­ing dis­tri­bu­tion, Yang said an au­ton­o­mous co­op­er­a­tive, tak­ing place the func­tion of lo­cal govern­ments, should be es­tab­lished in ru­ral ar­eas to man­age so­cial al­lowance.

“Farm­ers should be more in­volved in the de­ci­sion­mak­ing process of many is­sues re­lat­ing to their liveli­hoods, and the pow­ers of govern­ment should be par­tially del­e­gated.”

How­ever, lo­cal of­fi­cials said cre­at­ing non-gov­ern­men­tal, au­ton­o­mous or­ga­ni­za­tions re­mains dif­fi­cult.

“With most of the young adults leav­ing their home vil­lage to work in cities and towns, the only peo­ple left are the el­derly and chil­dren, who can’t meet their obli­ga­tions to run such or­ga­ni­za­tions,” said Chen Qiang, a se­nior off­i­cal at the Depart­ment of Civil Af­fairs of Yun­nan Prov­ince.

Chen said tougher penal­ties should be im­posed on those who mis­use funds or quo­tas.

The meet­ing also asked au­thor­i­ties to ad­just the min­i­mum so­cial al­lowance stan­dard in ac­cor­dance with lo­cal eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and com­mod­ity price fluc­tu­a­tions.

CHEN GANG / XIN­HUA

Feng She gets chick­ens from a lo­cal cham­ber of com­merce, which will buy them back when they are grown as part of a poverty al­le­vi­a­tion pro­gram in Guofengling, Shaanxi prov­ince.

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