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Social Security Plan to Help Urban Poor

The 15.8 million urban poor will all get relief payments from the government later this year, said the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

By January 31, most of the unemployed or disadvantaged urban residents have been receiving monthly payments from local governments, said Wang Zhenyue, a director with the relief department of the ministry.

The minimum living standard payment is part of the country's social security system that aids people who have lost jobs during the nationwide industrial restructuring.

"Only a small number of people in need got aid from the government before last year, due to a lack of investment in social security funds," he said.

"The central government made a breakthrough last year when it decided to spend more on urban relief," said Wang. "People who meet the requirements of minimum living standards were soon included in the aid program."

The central and local governments spent 5.4 billion yuan (US$651 million) on the urban relief projects last year.

The monthly payment varies in different cities. In Shenyang, for instance, the standard payment per person is 205 yuan (US$25), in Baoding 156 yuan (US$19), and in Tianjin, 241 yuan (US$29).

"The money is enough for basic daily expenses," said Wang. "The amount of aid is close to the cost of basic living standards calculated by academics."

Besides the money given by local governments, the poor also receive help from the community.

"I have three children, and we get a total of 964 yuan (US$116) each month, which is enough for food," said Xin Shaohua, who lives in Tianjin. "Thanks to the community authority, my children also go to school for free."

In Shenyang, capital of Northeast China's Liaoning Province, the social security system has not only helped laid-off workers, the unemployed and poor, but also assisted all those whose monthly income is less than 205 yuan (US$25).

(China Daily February 20, 2002)

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