Officials who fail to meet poverty-reduction targets could face the sack, some local authorities have warned amid President Xi Jinping’s pledge to lift 70 million people out of poverty within five years. Xi vowed at a high-level meeting on Friday that curbing poverty needed to be an important condition for appointing and assessing cadres. The meeting, attended by all members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the Communist Party’s powerful decision-making body, also saw leaders from 22 provinces sign documents agreeing to be held responsible if targets on reducing poverty were not met. Xi said the public should ultimately decide whether the poverty efforts had succeeded. Beijing Youth Daily reported on Monday that several provinces, including Guizhou, Hubei and Henan, had already set deadlines for eradicating poverty from their counties. But it did not say what punishments provincial cadres might face if they failed to meet their targets. READ MORE: China’s plan to beat poverty by 2020 an ‘extremely difficult mission’ However, the website of People’s Daily said some provincial news outlets did give details about the threat of cadres losing their jobs. A directive on alleviating poverty in Maiji district, in the city of Tianshui, in Gansu province, said cadres who delayed work in fighting poverty and sought benefits for themselves faced the sack. However, observers were sceptical about whether officials would tackle poverty effectively. Du Xiaoshan, vice-director of the Academy of Social Sciences’ research centre into poverty, said Beijing faced a problem in meeting its poverty reduction targets. Documents had been signed in the past to ensure officials took responsibility for measures in areas such as birth control and pollution limits, but that had rarely been the case in reducing poverty. “Apart from the [comment by Xi], not much is known about the way the policies for alleviating poverty will actually be monitored,” Du said. “Third-party institutes and the media must be allowed to supervise.” His concerns were echoed by Professor Zheng Fengtian of Renmin University. “Supervision should be open to the public; it’s really hard to supervise aid from within the government,” Zheng said. Zheng said reports emerged in October that in Mashan county, in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, more than two-thirds of the 3,000 people receiving poverty aid reportedly owned cars. READ MORE: China will expand medical insurance to alleviate ‘poverty by illness’ At an earlier Politburo meeting, the party said it planned to lift about 50 million people out of poverty by the end of 2020. It said it would put in place a social security net to cover the mainland’s remaining poor who were disabled or unable to work, totalling more than 20 million. The Politburo also said efforts to eliminate poverty would include investment in infrastructure in impoverished areas. Data compiled by the National Bureau of Statistics showed there were still 70.17 million mainlanders living below the nation’s annual income poverty line of 2,300 yuan (HK$2,800) at the end of last year, most of whom were living in rural areas.