BMPC reviews vice-mayor's performance
Constructing a public health system and enhancing farmers' income were the priorities urged by the Beijing Municipal People's Congress (BMPC) Wednesday when appraising the work performance of Niu Youcheng, the capital's vice-mayor.
Niu underwent a review Wednesday by the Standing Committee of BMPC, the capital city's legislative body that elected and appointed him.
He was urged to report to the Standing Committee in three months on reforms to public health and rural development, suggested by Standing Committee members yesterday.
"There are two problems in investment by the Beijing municipal government in the health sector," Shi Bingzhong, director member of the BMPC Education, Science, Culture, Public Health and Sports Committee, pointed out yesterday.
"First, the public health sector lacks enough government investment," he said.
The 2004 budget for public health, which mainly refers to epidemic prevention and control, is 860 million yuan (US$104 million) in Beijing, 21 per cent higher than the figure last year, sources said.
"But the increase is only 148 million yuan (US$18 million), which is still low for the capital city," Shi said.
"And even the rise is done by tearing down the east wall to repair the west wall," he said.
When increasing investment in the public health sector, the local government decreased the investment in hospitals by 19 per cent, Shi said.
"The total amount of health investment should be enhanced," he urged.
Meanwhile, the widening income disparity between farmers and urban residents was also highlighted.
"The income gap widened," said BMPC Standing Committee member Liu Baoshan.
Farmers' annual per capita income was 6,500 yuan (US$785) last year, only 47 per cent of the income of urban residents, according to sources provided by Liu.
"Even between farmers living in suburban areas and far rural areas, the income difference is also big," he said.
"The average annual income of farmers living in the outskirts has reached more than 8,000 yuan (US$970) but the figure for some farmers living in mountainous areas is only 3,000 yuan (US$360)," Liu pointed out.
He also called for better protection of farmers' rights when their land was recalled by government for construction, especially for construction of forested belts.
"Many farmers who lost their land failed to find a job and the compensation is sometimes not paid in time," Liu said.
All of the nine BMPC Standing Committee members and delegates who took the floor yesterday said Niu is qualified for his post in general.
"It is my obligation to receive supervision from the Municipal People's Congress," Niu said.
He is the ninth senior official of the capital city required to report his work to BMPC since 1999.
Other officials include Yue Fuhong, former vice-mayor of Beijing and Zhang Mao, another vice-mayor, sources with BMPC said.
Another three top officials with the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Finance, the Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning and the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Labour and Social Security will be reviewed by the BMPC latter this year, said Yu Junbo, director of BMPC Standing Committee.