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Legislation urged for funeral service biz

Legislation urged for funeral service biz

Updated: 2012-04-03 14:46


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BEIJING - Chinese experts have called for legislative efforts to standardize funeral services, in an attempt to regulate the country's unscrupulous funeral service providers who siphon huge profits from the relatives of the dead.

"A funeral service law should be drafted to provide detailed stipulations on the management of cemeteries, license requirements for funeral service agents, the purchase and use of graves, as well as punishments for malpractice," said Duan Pingru, vice curator of the Guangzhou Funeral Parlor in southern Guangdong Province.

During this year's Qingming Festival, a traditional holiday for mourning the dead, the lucrative funeral service industry has once again become a heated topic. Many have complained about excessive prices charged by the agents and muddled industrial standards.

According to Duan, funeral service management regulation is currently on the statute books, but it hasn't been revised since its creation in 1997.

"An industrial standard should be set up to provide pricing and service references for these agents, guiding them to improve service quality and pricing transparency for customers," Duan said.

According to insiders, basic services for burials don't vary much in terms of price, but urns and caskets can bring staggering profits. For instance, the price of a small urn can range from hundreds of yuan to tens of thousands as a result of different materials and craftsmanship.

Many customers complain that funeral service agents don't provide details on prices or what a service package includes, which experts say might give customers a feeling of being cheated.

Under the current legal frame, Duan called for civil affairs, commerce and city management departments to join efforts in investigating and rectifying industrial misconduct such as the illegal construction and sales of graves.

Figures from the Ministry of Civil Affairs show that over 5.4 million people had visited 150 major memorial sites or cemeteries to mourn the dead on the first day of the Tomb-sweeping festival, up 25 percent on last year.

Qingming Festival, or Tomb-sweeping Day, falls on Wednesday, but the public holiday runs from Monday to Wednesday this year.