More help to be given to returned Chinese

By Zhu Zhe (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-06-29 07:29

State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan announced Thursday a package of measures covering aid, debt-relief and social security to ease the plight of the returned overseas Chinese working on farms set up for them between the 1950s and 70s.

Local governments are required to provide subsidies for agriculture and forest farms run by the returnees and offer them favorable land and credit policies.

The governments shall also waive a proportion of the land-use fees and properly handle farms' debt issues, Tang said in a State Council report to the country's top legislature.

Last year, the State Council waived two-thirds of the total debts of such farms through debt restructuring, he told the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC).

In addition, local governments have been asked to help the farms clear up in arrears wages and pension payments, medical bills and social security contributions within two years. The problems of dilapidated structures, infrastructure development and land-use rights must be tackled in about three years, Tang said.

The farms are also encouraged to develop processing and service industries.

To implement the measures, Tang said the central government had so far this year allocated 51.42 million yuan ($6.75 million) in special subsidies.

There are 84 such farms in seven provinces across the country, with a population of about 600,000.

The measures are being introduced to address the problems discovered in a national inspection organized by the NPC standing committee last year.

It found that many of the farms run by the returned overseas Chinese were in the red and unable to pay wages, pensions and medical bills. Some did not enjoy the same favorable polices as local farms did, and their employees received lower wages than local farmers.

Education law

Also at the NPC standing committee meeting yesterday, vice-committee Chairman Lu Yongxiang said a recent national inspection on the implementation of the Compulsory Education Law had shown that rural schools were still badly in need of money.

The inspection found that many schools were forced to hold sports classes on the road because of a lack of playgrounds. In addition, there was a lack of teachers in many areas due to them leaving the profession because of decreasing salaries, the inspection found.

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