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Civilian Squad to Ensure Urban Poor Receive Subsidies
A civilian inspection squad, the first of its kind in China, was established in Beijing Monday to conduct random checks on the distribution of basic living subsidies to the urban needy.

The non-governmental team consists of 62 people in 20 groups, all of whom are professors and students from the Beijing-based People's University of China and the Nankai University in Tianjin.

The random checks, which are due to be completed on Oct. 10, include two kinds of surveys, targeting 100 cities and 10,000 households, conducted through questionnaires and home visits.

The purpose of the survey is two-fold: to make sure local governments have distributed the full amount of basic living subsidies timely to all qualified urban needy; and to figure out the heaviest economic burden for the majority of urban poor.

"Compared to past checks made by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, this inspection is the first to be completed by a non-governmental force," said Yang Yanyin, vice-minister of Civil Affairs. "The effort will not only make our work more transparent but also better demonstrate the country's determination in pushing forward the basic security system."

According to Yang, inspection reports will be handed in to the State Council directly and will serve as a major reference for the ministry to improve its work efficiency and quality.

As of June 30, the full total of 19.3 million Chinese eligible to receive a minimum living allowance have been granted the subsidy, the first time China has managed to dole out the funds to all urban needy.

To consolidate this achievement, the ministry recorded detailed information of every recipient for the inspections.

After a pilot program in Shanghai in 1993, the basic security system targeting urban dwellers that exist on a per capita monthly income below the official bottom-line average of 152 yuan (about US$18.3) was introduced across China in 1997.

(Xinhua News Agency September 24, 2002)

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