Life has im­proved since the reg­u­la­tion was in­tro­duced

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA -

T64, from Tangyue vil­lage, An­shun city

wo years ago, my fam­ily of six still de­pended on dibao (a gov­ern­ment poverty-al­le­vi­a­tion pro­gram that guar­an­tees peo­ple a min­i­mum stan­dard of liv­ing) to sur­vive. Life was diffi- cult and tir­ing then. But I wasn’t wor­ried about the hard­ships I had to en­dure; in­stead, I was con­cerned about the sud­den rise in the num­ber of ban­quets.

Though poverty-stricken, I had to give a cash gift of at least 50 yuan ($7.50) at each ban­quet. I raised chick­ens, but I never killed them for food and ate very few of the eggs they laid be­cause I wanted to sell them. I also sold home- grown veg­eta­bles. Some­times, the money I made from sell­ing my goods was not even enough for one cash gift. When ban­quets came fre­quently, I had to sell pigs and cows to sur­vive, but that still wasn’t enough. Even though I re­ceived a gov­ern­ment sub­sidy, I could only make sev­eral thou­sand yuan a year, but one year I handed out about 15,000 yuan in cash gifts.

I was re­ally un­der pres­sure when my nephew got mar­ried be­cause he had pre­vi­ously given my fam­ily a gift of 1,000 yuan, and it was time to re­turn the money. My only son was work­ing out­side our home­town and he didn’t make much, so I was re­luc­tant to ask him for help. I asked friends and rel­a­tives for loans, but they re­fused. As an un­cle, I was duty bound to at­tend the wed­ding ban­quet, so as it drew nearer I racked my brains and fi­nally found a “dis­grace­ful” so­lu­tion — to ap­ply for a loan.

At that time, small loans were avail­able to farm­ers in fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties to buy ma­te­ri­als, such as fer­til­izer. I had no choice, so I ob­tained a loan of 1,000 yuan.

In 2014, the vil­lage com­mit­tee started to look at ways to change the prac­tice of hold­ing ex­trav­a­gant ban­quets, and last year, a reg­u­la­tion was passed stip­u­lat­ing that peo­ple were only al­lowed to hold ban­quets at wed­dings and fu­ner­als. The com­mit­tee also set lim­its on how much food could be of­fered at ban­quets to avoid waste.

A co­op­er­a­tive was also es­tab­lished. Farm­land was col­lec­tivized and leased to com­pa­nies who planted cash crops. I in­vested my farm­land to be­come a share­holder, and my wife and I also worked for the co­op­er­a­tive. My son re­turned to our home­town and got a bank loan to buy a truck. In to­tal, my fam­ily can now make about 100,000 yuan a year. We are be­com­ing richer and have moved into a two-story house.

Now, thanks to the mea­sures taken by the vil­lage com­mit­tee, we can con­cen­trate on our work with­out wor­ry­ing about those tir­ing ban­quets. Life is so good now.

Qiu Mingx­i­ang spoke with Yang Jun

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