More details of milk scam cash finally released

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 May, 2012, 12:00am


The association that set up a compensation fund for victims of the melamine-tainted milk scandal four years ago has released more details, as parents continue to call for more transparency in the distribution of money.

The China Dairy Industry Association, along with medical-reimbursement fund operator China Life Insurance, released the extra information on Monday.

It was the second release of such information by the association, which was forced to respond in May last year after weeks of media reports and transparency demands by parents, including those of affected children who had yet to see any cash.

At least six children died and 300,000 others developed kidney problems, such as kidney stones, because firms added the industrial chemical melamine to baby formula to throw off protein test results.

The association set up a 1.1 billion yuan fund in July 2009 with money from 22 implicated dairy firms. About 910 million yuan was earmarked for one-off payouts and emergency medical treatment, and the remaining 200 million yuan was set aside to cover victims' medical bills until they turned 18, according to the association's statement last year.

The association said 279,056 families received 604.73 million yuan (HK$742.4 million) in one-off payouts but it did not detail how much had been spent on emergency treatment. About 62 million yuan remains, including interest. It did not give a breakdown of the payouts.

According to Ministry of Health orders, families of children killed by the tainted milk were to receive 200,000 yuan, those with severe symptoms should have received 30,000 yuan and those with regular symptoms were owed 2,000 yuan.

China Life, which runs the 200 million yuan medical-reimbursement fund, also released a vague description of the fund's operations.

Last year, it refused to reveal figures, saying they were industry or state secrets. This week's statement said 2,055 children had been reimbursed about 12.42 million yuan from July 2009 to the end of last year. About 190 million yuan, which includes interest, remains in the fund.

The association also said it tried to track down the remaining 23,000 children, out of the original 300,000 who reported kidney problems, but it was able to locate just 3,955 families and make one-off payouts, as some original records could not be found. And some of the 23,000 families were found to have registered at multiple hospitals.

A total of 168 families declined compensation, the association said.

After February, when the one-off compensation ends, the association plans to inject the rest into the medical-reimbursement fund.

But Lin Zheng, a volunteer who helped families of victims claim compensation through lawsuits in 2008, said there were still families unable to get compensation.

12.4m yuan

The amount that 2,055 children had been paid from the 200 million yuan medical fund from July 2009 to the end of last year