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Family planning fines spark controversy

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-08-08 06:31

ZHENGZHOU - A central Chinese county has denied claims that it attempted to raise fines from family planning policy violators to support its strained government treasury.

Lyu Xianpo, deputy government head of Xiping County, Henan Province, said the county recently carried out a campaign on family planning violations in order to curb the rise of such cases in the past two years.

Xiping launched the move in late June, targeting some 17,000 government staff, Communist Party of China members and public employees, according to Lyu.

A report posted on the website of the Economic Observer newspaper on August 2 quoted some local citizens as claiming the law enforcement campaign intends to raise money to replenish a budget deficit in the county government.

However, an official with the county's finance bureau told Xinhua that the county's fiscal difficulty doesn't exist, as financial revenue has been increasing annually since 2010 and grew 11.6 percent year on year in the first half of 2013.

The official, who declined to be named, said about 70 million yuan (11.3 million U.S. dollars) had been raised to pay extra salaries of some 10,000 employees of state institutions based on their work performance. He denied reports that the county lacked money to pay their salaries.

The county's annually collected fines on family planning violators, stood at about seven million yuan at most in the past, said Dai Jiping, a local family planning official.

Dai said the accumulated social compensation fees the county has collected since China's one-child policy was introduced in the late 1970s would not reach 500 million yuan, an amount that some local residents reportedly claimed the fines will reach in the current campaign.

Home to 1.34 billion people, China has kept the family planning policy for more than three decades due to its huge pressure to provide public services to its people.

With about 94 million population, Henan now ranks China's second most populous province, only behind Guangdong Province, according to the results of China's latest demographic census released in 2011.

An urban family in Xiping will pay a family planning violation fine, or "social compensation fee," of 86,736 yuan if it had a second child in 2012 in violation of the country's family planning policy.

However, the implementation of the policy seems loose in the past several years in some areas of the county.

A primary school teacher said a family planning official of her township told them in 2011 a second child was allowed as long as they paid 20,000 yuan in penalty.

The teacher, who also refused to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, said she had a second child in 2012 after paying the 20,000 yuan to the township's family planning office without being given any receipt.

She said she knew more than 10 similar cases like her among teachers. They had paid different sums of social compensation fees and felt very angry when being told to pay the fees again.

The county government said it will investigate whether there are any irregularities or corruption in the implementation of the family planning policy among officials.

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