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Farmer's Income, Property, Status Guaranteed by "No. 1 Document"

Chinese experts believed that the newly-issued "No. 1 Document" by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council will not only improve farmers' income, but ensure the safety of their land property and the social status of rural migrant workers in cities.

Dang Guoying, research fellow with the Institute of Rural Development of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in Monday's Beijing News newspaper that there are eight breakthroughs in the newly-issued document on agriculture, farmer and rural work by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, China's central government.

Firstly, the government will slash agricultural tax rates by one percentage point this year and abolish taxes on special farm produce, except tobacco crops.

"It demonstrates that the central government is encouraging farmers to plant grains and it is also a significant step in the direction of unifying the urban and rural tax standards," said Dang.

Secondly, resources will be channeled to help with the development of regions specializing in production of key high-quality grains.

About 70 percent of China's grain output is produced in what the document calls the country's "regions specializing in the production of key high-quality grains", such as the three provinces in northeast China, the plains along middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and Huabei Plain in north China.

"Therefore, as long as the grain output in those major grain-generating regions is stable, the whole country would not be trapped in the panic of grain shortage," Dang said.

The document said the government will increase subsidies to spread high-quality grain seeds and subsidize farmers in those regions to purchase agricultural equipment.

Thirdly, up to 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) will be earmarked from the country's grain venture fund which is currently worth 30.2 billion yuan (US$3.6 billion), in a bid to directly subsidize farmers to set off their loss caused by the low grain price in the market.

Fourthly, the document said "rural migrant workers are an important part of China's worker class". The social status of rural migrant workers was for the first time enshrined in the document issued by the CPC Central Committee.

Nowadays, about 46.5 percent of employees in industry were originally rural labors, which demonstrates that China's social structure and employment structure are undergoing dramatic changes, said Dang.

In the future, rural migrant workers will be given more occupational training in cities, in an effort to make them more competitive in the labor market.

Fifthly, to encourage the development of township enterprises. China's township enterprises have absorbed 130 million rural laborers since the implementation of the reform and opening-up policy more than two decades ago.

The document stressed that as long as the township enterprises do not damage the ecological environment and are in line with the government's safety production requirements, they should be encouraged to further develop.

Sixthly, reform on land requisition will be launched to safeguard farmer's land property, according to the document.

Over recent years, blind land requisition for urbanization or real estate development has severely hurt farmer's interests, Dang said.

Seventhly, financial organizations at county level or below have duties to earmark a certain proportion of capital for the local grain production, the document said.
Eighthly, grassroots administrative organizations will be streamlined to alleviate the financial burden of farmers, the document said.

The document on agriculture, farmer and rural work released by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Sunday, is the sixth such document issued by the CPC Central Committee since China implemented agricultural reform in 1978. The previous five documents were all released in the 1980s.

"The promulgation of the document demonstrates that the new government pays great attention to the gap between urban and rural incomes and intends to rejuvenate its stagnant agriculture in the near future," said Dang.

(Xinhua News Agency February 9, 2004)

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