» 04/01/2011, 00.00
As the poverty line is raised, the number of poor jumps threefold
As part of its plan to fight rural poverty, Beijing is forced to raise the poverty line, from 1,169 to 1,500 yuan (US$ 175 to 230) per year. Scholars and politicians oppose the decision, calling it “too soft”. They want a heftier increase.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China’s much-vaunted efforts against on poverty are grinding to a halt. The poverty line in China will be raised from 1,169 to 1,500 yuan (US$ 175 to 230) a year. For the World Bank, the minimum poverty lines should be US$ 1.25 per day, or 3,000 yuan per year.
With the new criterion, the number of poor will triple, from 26.88 million to about 100 million. The old number was changed as part of the government’s plan to reduce rural poverty over the next ten years.
Experts are not happy about the decision, viewing it as late and too rosy. "There have been calls for a higher poverty line for years," said Zheng Fengtian, a professor at the School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development of the Renmin University of China. "Just think how many times our salaries have increased over the past years? And how many times property prices have risen?"
Concern over the issue is not limited to academics. "From 1985 to 2009, China's poverty line rose by about 5 times, while its GDP increased by 42 times [. . .] I suggest we should at least double the current poverty line to 2,400 yuan," said Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference delegate Shen Wen last month.
Zheng said the slow rise in the poverty line was down to balancing the interests of three parties.
"For the central government, it will mean a loss of face if the line is raised drastically and thus lead to a big increase in the impoverished population”.
"For grassroots governments, many would rather keep the poverty hat on their head because this means greater financial support from the central government.
"As for ordinary poor people, they certainly want the standard to be raised so there can be more benefits."
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