4. We made further progress in ensuring the people's wellbeing and improving their lives.
We promoted the development of education. Spending of the central government on education totaled 107.635 billion yuan, an increase of 76 percent. A total of 36.48 billion yuan from the central budget, along with 32.3 billion yuan from local budgets, was spent to fully carry out the reform to introduce a system for guaranteeing funding for rural compulsory education, exempt all the students receiving compulsory education in rural areas across the country from paying tuition and miscellaneous education fees, provide them with free textbooks, give living allowances to students from poor families who stay in school dormitories, raise budgetary funding for operating expenses of primary and secondary schools and increase subsidies for renovating their buildings. All this benefited 150 million students receiving compulsory education in rural areas and 7.8 million students from poor families living on campus. We supported the trials to provide free education to education students at normal universities directly under the Ministry of Education. A new policy system for providing financial assistance to students from poor families was adopted to cover more students and raise the amount of aid they receive. We also gave financial support to students from poor families at regular undergraduate institutions, and vocational colleges and secondary vocational schools in the form of grants.
We stimulated the development of medical and health care. Central government expenditures for medical and health care reached 66.431 billion yuan, a rise of 296.8 percent. The new type of rural cooperative medical care was extended to reach 730 million rural residents in 86 percent of the country's counties, and the central government provided 11.4 billion yuan in subsidies for this program. We began trials to implement a basic medical insurance system for urban residents in selected cities, with annual subsidies of at least 40 yuan per person from the central government. A total of 3.4 billion yuan was spent to further carry out the work of providing medical care for needy urban and rural residents. Spending on public health increased, with 9.68 billion yuan used primarily to support prevention and control of major diseases and development of community-based health services.
We supported social safety net, employment and other work. The central government spent 230.316 billion yuan on the social safety net and employment effort, an increase of 13.7 percent. To put in place a system of cost of living allowances for rural residents throughout the country, the central government paid out three billion yuan in subsidies to areas with financial difficulties and local governments also increased their spending. It spent 16 billion yuan to support improvements in the system of cost of living allowances for urban residents. It allocated 6.5 billion yuan in subsidies to raise the basic pension benefits for retired enterprise employees. It also granted 1.7 billion yuan in subsidies to increase the allowances for entitled groups and allowed more people to become eligible for these allowances, benefiting over six million people. Subsidies were granted to urban recipients of cost of living allowances as well as junior college and secondary technical school students from poor families who were materially affected by the rises in the prices of pork and other foods. A total of 15 billion yuan was granted in subsidies to industries and groups such as fisheries and taxi drivers that were greatly affected by the increases in the prices of refined oil products. A total of 5.11 billion yuan was allocated to relieve enterprises of their obligation to operate social programs. Twenty billion yuan was spent to subsidize the policy-based closures or bankruptcies of 92 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and to find new employment for 357,000 of their laid-off employees. Another ten billion yuan in subsidies was allocated to pay long-overdue salaries and wages owed to SOE employees. The central government spent 13.7 billion yuan to provide further aid to residents displaced by large and medium-sized reservoirs. The central government paid out 23.8 billion yuan in subsidies to increase support for employment and reemployment efforts, and it further improved the preferential taxation policy for employment of the jobless, people with physical or mental disabilities, and other special groups.
We supported environmental protection and ecological conservation. The central government allocated 38.37 billion yuan to support implementation of key forestry ecological projects such as protecting virgin forests, reforesting farmland, and controlling the sources of dust storms affecting Beijing and Tianjin and to further improve the policy for funding ecological conservation of forests. This figure includes an additional allocation of 1.12 billion yuan to continue to provide rural households that reforested their land with subsidies after their grain and cost of living allowances expired. The central government also paid 1.58 billion yuan to support the reform of the system of collective forest rights.
We instituted a low-rent housing system. For this purpose, the central government allocated 5.1 billion yuan. This was supplemented by increases in spending by local governments. The central government also formulated accompanying financial measures and methods and clarified tax and fee policies to support the efforts of all localities to set up a sound low-rent housing system in urban areas. We also deepened the reform of the housing system and improved the system for managing matching-fund programs for housing.
We promoted development of cultural programs and the culture industry. We vigorously advanced the reform of the cultural management system and sped up development of the system of public cultural services in rural areas. The primary focus of support was on implementing projects to make the reception of central radio and television programming available to more areas through broadcasting facilities rather than cable, to set up a national shared databank of cultural information and resources, and to show movies in the countryside. All of these projects helped enrich the cultural life of rural residents. We also supported growth of the cartoon and animation sector in China.
We strengthened public services and public security. The central government appropriated 3.3 billion yuan to support efforts to tighten oversight of the quality and safety of exports, to crack down on the production and marketing of counterfeit goods and conduct random inspections and special campaigns to ensure the quality of products, and to improve the safety standard system and the inspection and testing system for food. It spent three billion yuan to fully fund the expenditures of courts following the reform of court costs. It also allocated 7.49 billion yuan in subsidies to help procuratorial, judicial and public security organs in poor areas improve their equipment and supplies while also ensuring funding for the costs of handling cases.