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Tibet region increases minimum wage

Updated: 2012-03-15 12:54

By Daqiong in Lhasa (China Daily)

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The Tibet autonomous region raised the minimum wage in January, the 10th increase since it established a minimum wage in 1997.

Urban minimum-wage earners will now receive 400 yuan ($63) a month, a three-fold increase from 130 yuan ($20). The rural minimum wage was doubled to 1,600 yuan a year.

According to the region's financial bureau, the increases will cost the local government 800 million yuan.

Tsering, 69, an ethnic Tibetan woman, got an allowance of 400 yuan on Tuesday from the government of Maizhokunggar county in Lhasa.

She used to make her living by knitting, but she had to stop working last year because of chronic swelling of her hands and legs.

"I used to worry that I might become a beggar because I couldn't knit anymore," she told China Daily on Tuesday.

"But I can cover my daily expenses thanks to the government's allowance and the help of my neighbors."

Tsering said the regional government also gave her money for Tibetan New Year, which fell on Feb 22, and to help deflect inflation, altogether 1,016 yuan.

Tsedolma, an ethnic Tibetan woman who lives in a low-rent government-built house in Lhasa, said the increased minimum wage has helped her family, according to Xinhua News Agency.

"Although the minimum wage is rising at a moderate pace, the extra money has helped us solve lots of real problems," Xinhua quoted her as saying.

To ease the sting of inflation, the Tibetan government has given more than 324,600 impoverished residents more than 112 million yuan in pensions and allowances in the past few months, according to the region's financial bureau.

In January 2011, the regional government established a funding mechanism for people whose income was slightly above the minimum wage level or were suddenly facing financial hardship because of temporary or unexpected causes. The government spent more than 144 million yuan last year to help such groups, according to the region's financial bureau.

An Baijie contributed to this story.