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Shaanxi vows to raise people's livelihoods
By Ma Lie (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-02 06:00

XI'AN: The inland northwestern province of Shaanxi, where a large number of people live in poverty, will make greater efforts to improve living standards over the next five years.

"Alleviating farmers' financial burdens and raising urban residents' incomes are my greatest goals," Chen Deming, acting governor of Shaanxi Province, told China Daily during an exclusive interview.

In his work report to the on-going third session of the Shaanxi Provincial People's Congress, Chen told the deputies that from 2005, the agricultural tax would be cancelled throughout the province, which would save its 27 million farmers more than 700 million yuan (US$84.34 million).

"And the provincial government will continue to directly subsidize farmers in the 32 counties, which are mainly a grain production region, and provide 100 million yuan (US$12 million) in special funding to support the construction of irrigation and water conservation projects there," he said.

In order to raise local farmers' incomes, the provincial government will also pay for the breeding of an improved variety of cow.

"We will actively speed up the construction of our urban and rural healthcare system, and set up a rural medical insurance system. By the year 2010, all farmers in Shaanxi will enjoy a complete medical insurance system," Chen said in his report.

And he urged local enterprises to ensure their employees were paid on time and that their employees' incomes grew with the economy.

With the implementation of reform and opening-up policies since the early 1980s, in addition to the launch of the western development plan in the late 1990s, Shaanxi has witnessed great social and economic development.

In 2004, Shaanxi's gross domestic product reached 288.35 billion yuan (US$34.74 billion), 12.9 per cent more than 2003, and the disposable annual income of local urban residents averaged 7,493 yuan (US$902) per person, 10.1 per cent higher than 2003, the work report revealed.

However, the province lags behind the fast developing regions in eastern China.

According to statistics from the Xi'an Urban Survey Team, the 2004 annual income of residents in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi, was only 8,544.03 yuan (US$1,030), which was the least among the 15 major cities in China that have the same official status as it.

(China Daily 02/02/2005 page3)

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