Guangdong workers owed $736m in pay

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 July, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 July, 2000, 12:00am

Workers in Guangdong's 26 counties are owed wages totalling 810 million yuan (HK$736 million), up from 570 million yuan at the end of last year.

The figure is just one of many showing the gap between rich and poor areas in the mainland's wealthiest province is as stark as it is throughout the country.

Most of the back wages are owed by enterprises in Guangdong's less affluent areas. More than 70 per cent of the total, or 580 million yuan, is owed to workers in nine counties under the administration of the western Guangdong cities of Zhanjiang and Maoming.

According to yesterday's Xinkuai News, statistics detailing the extent of this divide were prepared and presented to the Guangdong People's Congress by senior officials from the provincial economic planning commission and the provincial finance bureau.

The main reason that enterprises cannot pay their workers is the poor health of many of Guangdong's sub-economies.

Earlier this month, Guangdong reported a healthy first-half gross domestic product growth of 10.6 per cent, up from 9.4 per cent last year, on the back of strong increases in exports and retail sales.

But the apparent health of Guangdong's macro-economy masks large regional disparities.

For example, the eight cities that comprise the Pearl River Delta recorded first-half industrial output growth rates of more than 15 per cent. On the other hand, cities in the west, such as Zhanjiang; north, Qingyuan and Shaoguan; and east, Meizhou; reported industrial output growth rates of less than 10 per cent.

Qingyuan and Zhanjiang actually saw industrial output growth falter and decline year-on-year, by two per cent and 2.8 per cent respectively. Uneven economic performance has in turn led to large inequalities in local government resources.

Over the first two quarters, cities in the Pearl River Delta accounted for 85 per cent, or 3.82 billion yuan, of the total year-on-year increase in local government revenues. The Pearl River Delta also accounts for 90 per cent of provincial exports and receives 80 per cent of all foreign direct investment channelled into Guangdong.

The revenue squeeze in poorer regions has contributed to corruption throughout the province. Cities located outside the Pearl River Delta also tended to be more reliant on agriculture and have been hurt by an unusual combination of a poor spring harvest and falling prices for products. Over the first half of this year, the average per capita cash income of farmers in Guangdong fell 2.8 per cent to 1,722 yuan.