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UNDP helps unemployed workers in central China
( 2003-07-01 14:49) (Xinhua)

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in cooperation with China's trade unions, has launched a two-year program to offer small loans to workers laid off by state-owned firms to start their own businesses.

Zhou Peiyin, vice-chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of Henan Province, said that the UNDP, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions and Henan provincial government had deposited five million yuan (600,000 US dollars) in a local bank as guarantees for up to 20 million yuan (2.4 million US dollars) in loans for jobless workers.

The UNDP, the provincial trade union and the provincial government contributed 150,000 US dollars, 120,000 US dollars and 240,000 US dollars respectively to the start-up fund.

Three cities in the province, including Jiaozuo, Zhengzhou and Luoyang, have been selected to pilot the program.

The program requires unemployed people to apply to local trade unions for the approval to obtain small loans if they have workable projects and the capability to start a business.

The trade unions are responsible for recommending qualified small-loan applicants to the banks involved, which will decide according to the regulations whether to grant the loans.

The loans carried the banks' benchmark interest rates, which would be fixed, said Zhou.

Trade union officials said the program was expected to provide 2.4 million US dollars to an unspecified number of unemployed workers in the province by the end of 2005.

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