People without enough food and shelter, now shivering in the cold weather, may soon get an early glimpse of the warmth of spring.
The government and trade unions are mobilizing millions of yuan to give poor people a happy Chinese New Year, which falls on January 24.
The ministries of civil affairs and finance Monday announced a 850-million-yuan (US$102.4 million) aid package for people affected by the devastating droughts, floods, snowstorms and other natural disasters of 2000.
The public funds will be “used for the purchase of food for people in disaster-stricken regions to ensure that they each get at least 0.5 kg of food a day,” said a notice issued by the ministries Monday.
Although statistics on the losses caused by a string of natural disasters in 2000 have yet to be worked out, sources from the Ministry of Agriculture Monday said the drought alone, the worst in the past decade, had caused drinking water shortages for 20 million people, and virtually destroyed 1 million hectares of farmland.
Despite the many difficulties facing the disaster-hit areas, social stability there has not been affected, according to the notice.
The ministries of civil affairs and finance last year diverted 3.17 billion yuan (US$381.9 million) in relief funds to people in disaster-affected areas.
One-third of the funds have come from the sale of welfare lottery tickets, according to Zhang Mingmei of the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
In the joint notice, the ministries called on their local branches to give help to those in need, so that everyone could have a pleasant new year holiday.
Raising funds from all walks of life and donating grain to the hungry are among the measures they proposed to help resolve the everyday difficulties of the people in the disaster-hit regions, according to the notice.
The All-China Federation of Trade Unions is launching a nationwide drive to bring “warmth” to thousands of families with low incomes or laid-off workers.
The federation has allocated 14.4 million yuan (US$1.7 million) to this campaign this year. It also urged trade unions at all levels to work with enterprises and local governments to find more funds for the campaign.
In answer to the federation’s call, the Jiangsu Kangbo Group Corp, whose Bosideng brand of winter clothing holds a 40 percent share of the market, donated 5,000 sets of winter outerwear, worth 1.5 million yuan (US$180,000), to poor workers in the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang and Jiangsu, Gao Dekang, president of the group, said at a news conference Monday in Beijing.
(China Daily 01/08/2001)