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US$13.6 billion allocated for post-quake effort
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China has so far allocated 95 billion yuan (about US$13.6 billion) for quake relief and reconstruction this year, said a senior official on Monday.

The government had earlier planned a 25-billion yuan budget for rescue and relief, Vice Minister of Finance Liao Xiaojun told a press conference held by the Information Office of the State Council.

About 10.8 billion yuan had been delivered by May 23, according to an earlier report.

The central treasury is to allocate another 70 billion yuan as reserves for reconstruction in the quake-battered areas, which will be used over a period of years, he said.

The ministry has also launched an emergency payment system for quake relief, which will enable funds to reach relevant departments as soon as possible, he noted.

Liao also said further financial arrangements will be expected in the coming two years based on economic developments.

Losses from the Sichuan Province earthquake on May 12 could reach 400 billion to 500 billion yuan (US$58-73 billion), according to the State Information Center, a think tank under the National Development and Reform Commission, the top planning agency.

The magnitude 8.0 quake had killed 69,181 people as of Sunday at noon, according to the Information Office of the State Council.

(Xinhua News Agency June 24, 2008)

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