Beijing farmers to become shareholders of firms

Updated: 2011-01-20 06:43
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BEIJING - Beijing will complete a reform on property rights of rural collective economies in three years, making all farmers shareholders of the city's collectively-owned farming enterprises, rural affairs officials said Wednesday.

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All of the 2.73 million rural residents in Beijing will become shareholders of the city's rural collective farming enterprises such as chicken farms and orchards, said Chen Tao, spokesman with the Beijing Municipal Commission of Rural Affairs, at a press conference Wednesday during the metropolis's parliamentary session.

Those companies are collectively owned by rural residents who, however, have not received dividends since the 1950s when they invested capital and means of production, such as farm tools and livestock, according to Chen.

A lack of distribution systems had largely affected farmers' desires to raise crops as well as their incomes, he said.

Meanwhile, confusion about property rights and a lack of supervision also led to the abuse of power and corruption among village chiefs.

"In the past, we did not have to ask anyone when taking money from collective enterprises, but now we have to follow the rules and report to villagers once a year," said a village cadre who refused to give his name.

To solve the problem, many local Chinese governments, including Beijing, started the property rights reform in the mid 1990s.

So far, about 1.81 million rural residents in Beijing have received shares of about 62 percent of the city's rural collective economy that are worth 300-billion-yuan (about $45.5 million), according to Chen.

The share will grow to 90 percent by the end of this year and the rest will be completed by 2013, he said.

Every rural resident will receive shares, though the amount varies according to the length of their working years, said Chen.

During the past 11th Five Year Plan (2006-2010), when the reform was being widely adopted in Beijing, the average annual income of Beijing rural residents grew to 13,000 yuan in 2009 from the 7,860 yuan in 2004.

Chen said that Beijing also planned to increase farmers' average incomes by another 8 percent in five years.

The reform will further promote China's urbanization pace as, according to Chen, farmers who have shares can still receive dividends if they leave their rural land to live in cities.

Chen also mentioned that Beijing still needed to improve management of those enterprises. It will also build a talent system to absorb more college graduates and professionals to operate those firms.