CHINA> National
28 million to benefit from new poverty standards
Updated: 2008-12-28 14:13

The Chinese government said Saturday it would expand coverage of its anti-poverty program in rural areas next year to include an additional 28.41 million residents.

Fan Xiaojian, director of the Office for Poverty Alleviation and Development under the State Council, said rural residents with an annual per capita income of less than 1067 yuan (US$156) would begin to be covered in the country's poverty-relief program next year.

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Currently, the program only benefited rural residents with an annual per capita income of less than 786 yuan.

China defined an annual income of less than 786 yuan as absolute poverty and an annual income of between 786 and 1067 yuan as low income.

By the end of last year, the country had a rural population of 14.79 million living in absolute poverty. While the low-income rural population was 28.41 million.

Fan said the government would abandon the policy of separating the low-income population from those living in absolute poverty starting next year.

The expansion would ensure 43.2 million rural residents benefit from poverty-relief policies. That accounts for 4.6 percent of the country's total rural population, Fan said.

The annual poverty-relief fund from the central budget had increased from 10.6 billion yuan in 2002 to 14.4 billion last year. It was further raised to 16.7 billion yuan this year.