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How are social subsistence fees being spent?

Updated: 2013-08-19 22:08

The Chinese government should disclose the uses of the social subsistence fee, which is collected according to the law on family planning, says an article of the Southern Metropolis Daily. Here is an excerpt:

On July 11, a lawyer requested 31 provincial family planning authorities to disclose how they spend the social subsistence fee they collect each year. Only 10 provinces replied, giving information on their overall spending of fee revenue, without further explanation. According to their data, the 10 provincial family planning authorities collected more than 10 billion yuan ($1.59 billion) last year.

According to the law, the fee is not a fine, but a compulsory amount paid by any family having more children than the law allows. The fee is used to pay the children's share of social public resources, which are provided by the government.

However, in practice, many grassroots family planning authorities regard the fee as a reliable way to make money.

As a result, so long as the family can afford the fee, they can give birth to more babies. The law means that wealthy families have more freedom of reproduction than the poor.

As the Chinese government pledges to reform the fee and the whole family planning system, the central authority should start reforms by increasing transparency in how the huge amount of fee revenue is spent.