Xinhua News Agency

Beijing promises relief by 2020 for those living in poverty

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 April, 2011, 12:00am

The central government vowed yesterday to provide adequate food and clothing as well as basic education, health care and housing to all those who live below its poverty line by 2020, according to state media.

By then, the average income of farmers in areas categorised as poverty-stricken should grow faster than the national average, and so should key indices in basic public services, Xinhua reported after a Politburo meeting yesterday.

The government's poverty alleviation plan for the next 10 years was deliberated at the meeting.

People living below the poverty line would be 'free from worries over food and clothing', and the government will 'guarantee them basic education, medical care and housing', Xinhua said.

China has 26.88 million people living below the poverty standard of 1,169 yuan (HK$1,397) a year, according to the State Council's Poverty Alleviation Office. News came from the National Poverty Alleviation Work Conference at the end of last year that Beijing plans to raise this line by almost a third to 1,500 yuan, which experts say would take the number of poor to 100 million.

Despite progress in lowering the number of extremely poor rural residents in recent decades, China still lags behind international standards in terms of its poverty line: the World Bank's poverty line is US$1.25 per day, or about 3,000 yuan a year.

Politburo members pledged to raise the line and increase spending in poverty alleviation in the next decade, the report said, but it didn't give details on how big the rise would be.

Fan Xiaojian, head of the Poverty Alleviation Office, earlier admitted that the low poverty line was a real problem. 'We can't turn a blind eye to it. In fact, the central leadership has been clear-minded on this issue [of] lifting the standard,' he was quoted as saying by the Beijing News.