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850bn Yuan Earmarked for Ethnic Minority Areas

Mou Benli, vice minister of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission (SEAC), said the state has given key support to a batch of projects concerning infrastructure facilities, ecological and environmental protection and construction, industrial restructuring, science and technology, education, culture and medical services in the last few years since this significant strategy was introduced.

"About 460 billion yuan in construction funds have been earmarked by the central government for the west, in addition to more than 500 billion yuan in financial transfers and special purpose subsidies, which have greatly boosted economic growth and social undertakings in these regions," he added.

Between 2000 and 2005, the average annual growth rate of the total output value in the ethnic minority areas reached 10.1 percent, a rise of 1.4 percentage points over the average growth rate in the four years from 1996 to 1999. In 2004, the local revenue of the ethnic minority areas topped 110 billion yuan, 93.1 percent higher than the figure for 1999. The disposable family income per capita in the urban areas was 7,962 yuan, 2,565 yuan more than in 1999. The net income per capita in the rural areas was 2,077 yuan, a 455-yuan increase over 1999.

In addition, Mou said that the state has strengthened its efforts to help poverty-stricken ethnic minorities.

In the period 2000-2004, a budget of 264 million yuan was set aside to back the poverty alleviation drive, which has in turn encouraged and attracted a large amount of investment in the frontier regions. As a result, more than 20,000 projects have been launched in the fields of infrastructure, agricultural production, ecological construction, culture and education.

Assistance has also been given to support the development of 22 ethnic minority groups each with a population of less than 100,000. The provision of special aid in this regard has also been included by the State Council in its10th Five-Year Plan.

In May 2005, the "Development Plan (2005-2010) for the Aid of Ethnic Minorities with Small Populations" was drafted. It set a target of helping to alleviate the suffering of poverty-stricken ethnic-minority villages within five years – a shorter timeframe than for people in similar conditions in other parts of the country.

"All these steps have greatly improved infrastructure construction, and economic and social development, as well as the living standards of the people in ethnic-minority areas," Mou said.

(China.org.cn by Unisumoon May 31, 2005)

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