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Transparency urged in use of quake relief funds
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China's State Council issued on Monday a guideline on regulating the use of relief funds for the massive earthquake that jolted the southwestern Sichuan Province on May 12.

It required local governments and organizations that receive relief funds to use them transparently and efficiently.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs statistics said the donations to date were valued at 45.654 billion yuan (6.6 billion US dollars) for the affected areas. The 8.0-magnitude quake claimed at least 69,170 lives, left 17,427 missing and made millions homeless. About 30 percent of the donations have already been offered to the tremor-affected areas.

The Red Cross Society of China and the China Charity Federation are major conduits collecting and distributing donations.

The State Council, the country's Cabinet, urged individual donations should go to areas in agreement with donors' wishes.

The priority would be for the improvement of people's livelihoods in the quake-hit areas, the government said.

This has been specified for reconstruction of peasants' houses, re-building of schools, hospitals and welfare institutions, subsidies for those in desperate need, including orphans and the disabled, and public facilities of local transport and power supply, the guideline said.

To keep transparency of the fund allocation and its use, the State Council asked the Ministry of Civil Affairs to set up a database on fund sources, amount, donors' wishes and other concerned information. The ministry was required to publicize the information regularly.

(Xinhua News Agency June 16, 2008)

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