Stern measures have been introduced by the Shandong provincial Government to free peasants from rampant illegal fund-raising by grassroots officials, an official paper said yesterday. The Dazhong Daily, mouthpiece of Shandong's party committee, said the new policy addressed serious problems faced by peasants in the mainly rural province. All fund-raising activities in villages now needed approval from two-thirds of village committee members and must be signed into effect by higher authorities, the paper said. No money would be raised from farmers to be used in the education sector for one year, except for those used to renovate old school facilities, the paper said. The measures specifically forbid the collection of 'special product tax' and 'slaughtering tax' on the basis of head counts and size of fields. Activities requiring peasants to contribute their money, resources or labour in the name of meeting 'government-set targets' were also prohibited. Promotion would be denied to township or county officials who mishandled peasant issues that resulted in serious disturbances. Enforcement of the new measures at all levels of the Government was stressed to make sure violators would be prosecuted and items illegally collected from the peasants would be returned in full. Authorities emphasised cases of illegal fund-raising should be fully reported, the paper said.