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Steps to narrow rich-poor gap needed
By Jiang Xuezhou (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-03-11 01:54

A means to rationally and justly address income distribution to narrow the gap between the poor and rich needs to be formulated.

A rural woman enjoys a moment of happiness after getting some 30 yuan (US$3.6) for her day's collection of rubbish just sold at a garbage collecting spot amid a backdrop of highrise apartments in the Guizhou provincial capital of Guiyang. The growing gap between rich and poor in China has drawn considerable attention from deputies to the 10th NPC and members of the 10th National Committee of the CPPCC, who are meeting in Beijing for their annual plenary session. [newsphoto]
"The time is right to harmonize the distorted income distribution system, which has aroused widespread resentment among people from all walks of life," Jing Tiankui told the 2,000-strong political advisers yesterday at a plenary meeting of the 10th National Committee of the CPPCC.

The income disparity between rural and urban areas continued to grow during the 18 years between 1985 and 2003 and the de facto ratio reached 1:6 in 2004, said Jing, also the Director of the Sociology Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Investigations indicate the income distribution gap between the 10 per cent richest and poorest families was more than eight fold in 2004, echoed CPPCC National Committee member Suo Lisheng, adding that the Gini Index which measures the degrees of income inequality was approaching 0.47, higher than the international alert line of 0.4.

"With China's gross domestic product surpassing US$1,200 per capita, the nation is better able than ever to adjust its unbalanced income distribution system," said Jing.

Considering the complexity of income distribution, Jing suggested the government select some "cut-in points" that have been well discussed and are easy to operate.

For example, the nation could adopt reliable measures to gradually realize a unified salary system for its public servants.

By drawing lessons from overseas, China could enhance reforms of its taxation system to adjust income disparity and also alleviate possible social unrest, he said.

Systems must be set up to arrest the deluge of random distribution of income in the public service sectors, such as the judiciary, civil service and health workers, he said.

"Besides, the establishment of various adjustment mechanisms, in the current market economic situation, it is crucial to guarantee the realization of a fair and just income distribution," said the director.

Such mechanisms can be found in companies whose employees are able to reach agreements on wage claims with employers through negotiation, he explained.

CPPCC National Committee member Suo said that a scientific evaluation system must be urgently established in China to appraise local governments.

"Such a system not only focuses on the economic growth and financial income, but also pays attention to the livelihood changes of moderate and low-income citizens," he said.

Jing also suggested to speed up reform and improve the social security system, another move that would work towards a more equitable income distribution system.

(China Daily 03/11/2005 page2)

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