The Ministry of Civil Affairs vowed Tuesday to grant minimum living allowances to all urban poor around China by June 30.
Of the country's 19.38 million urban poor who exist on a per capita monthly income below the official bottom-line average of 152 yuan (about 18.3 U.S. dollars), some 15.91 million had received the subsidy by June 10.
Those urban poor not yet covered by the system make up only 17.9 percent, 10.2 percent fewer than in April.
Wang Zhikun of the ministry said that China was confident of carrying out its promise on schedule.
CPC Leaders Call for Efforts to Help People in Need
"Only after all those who qualify get their allowances from the government can the country's bottom-line security system live up to its name as the last line of the national social security system," he said.
According to Wang, those urban needy still awaiting assistance are mainly scattered across 19 provinces and autonomous regions including Hunan and Qinghai.
A total of 12 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions have already achieved the target of granting allowances to all local urban poor who qualify.
They are Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong, Chongqing, Hebei, Jilin, Guangxi, Guizhou and Ningxia.
Supervision on carrying out assistance work
To encourage local governments at all levels to redouble their efforts in granting allowances to all those who qualify as quickly as possible, the ministry is planning to release their statistics every fortnight to news media.
Call-free telephones will also be set up nationwide for the urban needy to lodge complaints or ask for legal and technical assistance.
On Wednesday, an inspection team comprising officials from the ministries of civil affairs and finance and the General Office of the State Council will fly to Yunnan, Jiangxi and Heilongjiang to check their work in preparing fund for this purpose.
China's social security system was long plagued by a shortage of capital.
Last month, Beijing allocated a record 4.6 billion yuan (554 million U.S. dollars) from state revenues as a fallback fund for local governments to use for payments to urban poor.
"Such a large amount indicates the Chinese government's determination to guarantee basic living for the urban poor and to push local governments to contribute more," he said.
In July, a large-scale random survey will be launched among the country's nearly 20 million urban poor to make sure none is being left out.
"Once the allowances are granted to all those urban poor," Wang said, "development of the country's basic security system will stabilize.
"Our emphasis will then shift to setting up institutions and standardizing management," the ministry official added.
After a pilot program in Shanghai in 1993, the basic security system for urban dwellers was introduced across China in 1997.
(People's Daily June 19, 2002)