SCIO briefing on China's poverty reduction progress

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Mr. Liu Yongfu, director of State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development
Ms. Su Guoxia, head of the Comprehensive Department of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, as well as the office’s spokesperson

Xi Yanchun, vice director-general of the Press Bureau, State Council Information Office

Oct. 10, 2017

China National Radio (CNR):

China has made huge achievements in poverty alleviation since the 18th CPC National Congress. What policy mix has been introduced during the period? How do different departments and regions collaborate in this regard? Are there any specific measures for tackling some long-standing problems of poverty alleviation? Thank you.

Liu Yongfu:

There are a lot of measures. In my view, current poverty alleviation measures share certain characteristics:

First, the goal of this campaign is to eradicate poverty. The former massive campaigns against poverty left a large number of impoverished people afterwards. The number stands at more than 20 million or even more than 30 million, who live in absolute poverty. Our aim is to get rid of absolute poverty and leave no poverty-stricken population behind. We have formulated many policies and formed a policy mix on the target populations by comprehensively deepening reform and in accordance with the strategy of taking targeted measures in poverty alleviation and the requirements of implementing classified policies.

The central government is responsible for making overall plan, the provincial governments taking the overall responsibility and the cities and counties carrying it out. The principal leaders of the Party and governments in 22 central and west provinces have signed with the central government letters of responsibility on poverty alleviation with stricter performance evaluations. Irregular change of positions of the Party leaders and magistrates of 832 counties should be avoided from 2015 to 2020. The major secretary and other staff working in villages are transferred from the Party and government offices and state-owned enterprises and institutions at the levels of the central government, provinces, cities and counties respectively. Nearly one million people are on duty, with nearly three million people transferred accumulatively. All these measures are unprecedented.

With regard to financial investment, the central government requires that investment be adapted for the poverty alleviation task. The special funds for poverty alleviation from the central finance were very poor before. Poverty alleviation tasks are reliant on this fund even though it only amounted to 40 billion yuan. The poverty-stricken regions can hardly receive the money. Since the campaign against poverty was launched, the funds have seen a year-on-year growth of more than 30 percent. The funds allocated by provinces, cities and counties have also substantially increased accordingly. Now, more than 80 billion yuan is allocated by the central government, more than 60 billion yuan allocated by the provincial government and more than 60 billion yuan allocated by the governments of city and county level, which are unprecedented.

Liu Yongfu:

In terms of financial input, in the past there was only fiscal input - the financial sector didn't participate much. Now the financial sector is involved and provides poverty alleviation microloans for registered poor households. The financial product (microloans) has reached 380 billion yuan, and can be characterized as "under 50,000 yuan, repaid within three years, with no need for guarantees and mortgages to get loan, only requiring the benchmark interest rate, while the poverty alleviation fund would fully pay the interest, and the rural counties will set up risk funds." For the leading poverty alleviation enterprises which provide jobs for registered poor individuals, the central bank will issue poverty alleviation reloans with a very low interest rate -- 2 percent for local governments and 5 percent for enterprises. For example, if they need to relocate 10 million people with a budget of 600 billion yuan, then 250 billion yuan will be capital funds provided by the government, and the remaining 350 billion yuan will be financial bonds.

Local debts will be partially used for poverty alleviation. In the past two years, the local governments were required to allocate 60 billion yuan every year. And we also integrated social funds into it. In the last year, we integrated more than 200 billion yuan. This year, the amount will increase further.

For land policies, impoverished areas will be guaranteed land for poverty alleviation projects. And the surplus quotas of linking the amount of urban and rural land granted for construction purposes to that of land returned to cultivation are allowed to be traded within the provincial scope. Recently, the policies regarding this issue have been expanded, such as the policy for building village-level photovoltaic power stations.

Land-use policies deal with tough problems, many of which have existed for a long time. We have so many challenges to address.

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