Study tar­gets gap in State aid sys­tems

De­part­ments should share in­for­ma­tion, im­prove co­or­di­na­tion, blue book says

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By CHEN MENGWEI chen­meng­wei@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

An an­nual re­port on China’s poverty al­le­vi­a­tion work has high­lighted a lack of co­or­di­na­tion be­tween two par­al­lel sys­tems aimed at help­ing the poor.

The 2016 Blue Book on Poverty Re­duc­tion, a gov­ern­ment­backed study re­leased on Tues­day, has a 17-page sec­tion that lists prob­lems with the min­i­mum al­lowance pro­gram and the poverty al­le­vi­a­tion ef­forts.

Yang Sui, a re­searcher on ru­ral de­vel­op­ment at the Chi­nese Acad­emy of So­cial Sciences, who wrote the sec­tion, said the root cause is mainly the bu­reau­cratic struc­ture.

Help­ing the poor­est in so­ci­ety is largely the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the State Coun­cil Lead­ing Group Of­fice of Poverty Al­le­vi­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment, a high-level cross-depart­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion es­tab­lished in 1986, now chaired by Vice-Premier Wang Yang. It tends to fo­cus on re­duc­ing hard­ship by boost­ing a re­gion’s econ­omy.

The min­i­mum al­lowance, set up in 2007, is an al­ter­na­tive chan­nel that pro­vides money and daily ne­ces­si­ties di­rectly to those in need. It is man­aged by the Min­istry of Civil Af­fairs and lo­cal civil af­fairs bu­reaus.

The State Coun­cil has said the lat­ter sys­tem should “meet ru­ral poor peo­ple’s need for food and cloth­ing in a sta­ble, long-last­ing and ef­fec­tive way”.

Yang said the lead­ing group’s poverty al­le­vi­a­tion work is more like “gen­er­at­ing blood”, while the min­i­mum al­lowance is like “do­nat­ing blood”.

“One of the prob­lems is they do not share in­for­ma­tion across dif­fer­ent de­part­ments. There is no ef­fec­tive co­or­di­na­tion mech­a­nism,” she said.

As a re­sult, the sys­tems have in­tro­duced dif­fer­ent stan­dards for those who need help. For in­stance, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion on the min­istry’s web­site, the na­tional poverty line was 2,855 yuan ($410) last year, but the bench­mark to qual­ify for the min­i­mum al­lowance was 3,178 yuan.

Ba­si­cally, this means a per­son who earned 3,000 yuan last year would not qual­ify for help from the na­tional poverty cam­paign, but could re­ceive a gov­ern­ment al­lowance.

Liu Xi­tang, head of the min­istry’s so­cial as­sis­tance bureau, said the cen­tral gov­ern­ment wants the min­i­mum al­lowance to “bet­ter con­nect with” the lead­ing group’s ef­forts rather than “merge” with them.

The blue book, re­leased by the lead­ing group and the Chi­nese Acad­emy of So­cial Sciences, came af­ter a State Coun­cil cir­cu­lar in Septem­ber called for the two sys­tems to bet­ter co­or­di­nate with each other.

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