Archive for ‘poverty’


China’s top legislator meets Nigerien president


Li Zhanshu (R), chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), meets with Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, May 29, 2019. (Xinhua/Pang Xinglei)

BEIJING, May 29 (Xinhua) — China’s top legislator Li Zhanshu met with visiting Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou on Wednesday, exchanging views on pushing forward the relationship between the two countries.

Li, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), said China stands ready to work with Niger to implement the important consensus made by the two heads of state to lift the bilateral ties to a higher level.

Both the Chinese and African people experienced anti-imperialist and anti-colonial struggles in the past, and both face the task of getting rid of poverty and backwardness and achieving development and prosperity, Li said.

China and Africa have created a new model of South-South cooperation, Li said.

The NPC is willing to strengthen exchanges with the National Assembly of Niger and promote state-to-state friendly cooperation, he said.

Issoufou said Niger thanks China for its long-term support and assistance, and is willing to learn from China’s development experience, actively participate in jointly building the Belt and Road and strengthen pragmatic cooperation.

Source: Xinhua


China’s iconic revolutionary base Yan’an bids farewell to poverty

XI’AN, May 7 (Xinhua) — Yan’an, a former revolutionary base of the Communist Party of China (CPC), is no longer labeled “poor,” as its last two impoverished counties have shaken off poverty, the Shaanxi provincial government announced Tuesday.

Yan’an hosted the then headquarters of the CPC and the center of the Communist revolution from 1935 to 1948. The city is now home to more than 350 sites related to the Chinese revolution.

The counties of Yanchuan and Yichuan, with a population of 192,000 and 120,000 respectively and both located along the western bank of the Yellow River, have limited fertile valley fields. Villagers there had been plagued by poverty for decades.

American journalist Edgar Snow wrote in his 1937 book “Red Star over China” that the area was “one of the poorest parts of China” he had seen.

According to the provincial poverty relief office, poverty-stricken residents in the two counties now only account for 1.06 and 0.58 percent respectively of their populations, meeting the country’s requirement for an impoverished county to shake off the title.

An investment of 6.25 billion yuan (920 million U.S. dollars) from the central and local governments has been poured into Yan’an over the past four years.

To make sure that every household can get rid of poverty, the city has sent a total of 1,784 Party chiefs, 1,546 working teams and 37,400 cadres to live in the villages to help with poverty alleviation.

A total of 693 impoverished villages in the city have shaken off poverty, with 195,000 people being lifted out of poverty.

The cradle of the revolution has continued to undergo tremendous changes over the past decades. Improved environment and infrastructure, booming agricultural economy, increasingly affordable education, healthcare, and multiple career choices for rural residents have rejuvenated the city.

Yan’an will continue to help the remaining impoverished people shake off poverty, and strive to enter a moderately prosperous society in all respects with the rest of the country by 2020, said Xu Xinrong, Party chief of the city.

Source: Xinhua


Surgical strike on poverty, says Rahul Gandhi on minimum income poll promise

Congress president Rahul Gandhi said his promise of minimum income guarantee scheme is his party’s surgical strike on poverty.

LOK SABHA ELECTIONS Updated: Mar 26, 2019 16:48 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Ganganagar, Rajasthan
Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Ganghi at a rally in Sriganganagar, Rajastan, on Tuesday. (Congress/Twitter)

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the promise of minimum income guarantee is his party’s “surgical strike on poverty” that will ensure there is no poor in the country after 2019. Gandhi said the Congress’s promise of minimum income guarantee is “an explosion”.

“It will set off a bomb…This is the Congress’s surgical strike on poverty. They (the BJP) tried to eliminate the poor. We will eliminate poverty,” said Gandhi at a public rally in Rajasthan’s Ganganagar.

‘Surgical strike on poverty’: Rahul Gandhi counters BJP on minimum income promise

A day after the Bharatiya Janata Party tried to discredit the Congress’ promise of a minimum income guarantee scheme in case it comes to power, Congress President Rahul Gandhi countered the BJP’s criticism.

Gandhi hit out at the Narendra Modi government in his speech alleging that the current regime has brought back people who were uplifted from the below poverty line by the Congress-led UPA rule. “The fact that 25 crore people are living in poverty in the 21st century India is a shame,” Gandhi said.

The Congress president said nowhere such a scheme has ever been implemented. “There should not be a single poor person in the country,” he said addressing the Congress’s Jan Sankalp Rally at Suratgarh in Ganganagar district.

On Monday, Gandhi promised that his party would, if it comes to power, guarantee an income of at least Rs 12,000 a month for 20 per cent of India’s poorest families by giving them Rs 6,000 a month. He said the minimum income guarantee scheme, named NYAY (standing for Nyuntam Aay Yojana) meaning justice, would cover 5 crore families or 25 crore people, who constitute the poorest 20 per cent of Indian households.

The scheme, if implemented, is expected to cost Rs 3.6 lakh crore, around 2 per cent of India’s GDP. Gandhi has insisted that it is fiscally prudent.

At his Rajasthan rally, Gandhi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tried to “create two Indias” in the last five years giving all the benefits of the government to select few rich people while insisting that if voted to power, the Congress will eradicate poverty completely.

The BJP has rejected the minimum income guarantee promise of Gandhi with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley calling it a “bluff announcement” in his blog. Jaitley also said that the total promised by the Congress (Rs 72,000 a year) is just around two-thirds of what the NDA gives the poor.

Source: Hindustan Times


Lawmakers brainstorm methods to seal victory over poverty

BEIJING, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) — Chinese lawmakers have met at a bimonthly legislative session to discuss a research report on poverty relief, and brainstormed methods to seal the country’s victory against poverty.

The report was based on the investigation led by three National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee vice chairpersons into poverty alleviation efforts in 16 provinces and regions last year.

It was reviewed at the two-day committee session, which ended Wednesday.

Delivered at the session by Wu Weihua, vice chairperson of the NPC Standing Committee, the report said that “decisive progress” had been made in the anti-poverty fight but circumstances remained challenging.

Support for extremely impoverished regions should be continuously strengthened, according to Li Yuefeng, a member of the standing committee, who said that areas in abject poverty still posed the most difficult tasks in the battle against poverty, and called for consistent efforts to make sure they did not lag behind.

Fellow lawmaker Liu Yuankun believes the problems for extremely poor areas are rooted in their economy and society, and suggested poverty relief in such areas be integrated with local economic and social development.

“As soon as transportation works, everything will work,” he said, stressing the construction of infrastructure, which allows funds, talent and industries to flow into impoverished areas.

Another member Zheng Gongcheng said that only by building inner faith and hope could the endogenous power to defeat poverty be long-lasting, and suggested prioritizing efforts in education and employment to enhance the capacity of people in poverty.

In 2018, China lifted 13.86 million people in rural areas out of poverty, with the number of impoverished rural residents dropping from 98.99 million in late 2012 to 16.6 million by the end of last year.

The number is still high, however, and many of the impoverished are long suffering from illnesses, disabled, or elderly people with no family, according to the report.

“A long-term and effective mechanism to prevent people from falling back into poverty due to illness is significant,” said Li Xueyong, a member of the NPC Standing Committee, who asked for more measures to cut major illnesses at the root.

Source: Xinhua


Fire alarms “faulty” at Delhi blaze hotel, prompting mass reinspections

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A hotel that caught fire in the Indian capital on Tuesday, killing 17 people, passed safety checks 14 months ago, but an investigation has revealed breaches of regulations, such as faulty alarms, prompting a mass reinspection of other hotels.

Poorly enforced regulations lead to thousands of deaths in fires across India every year and officials in New Delhi say an overstretched fire service is hampering safety efforts.

The Hotel Arpit Palace passed a fire safety check in December 2017, but a copy of the initial police investigation seen by Reuters showed several breaches of fire regulations, including a lack of signs to guide guests to exits and fire alarms that did not work.

Delhi’s fire service, which is responsible for safety inspections as well as fighting fires, is now reviewing certificates issued to more than 1,500 hotels in one of India’s tourist hubs, a senior fire official told Reuters.

“Fire officers have to do a lot of work,” said Vipin Kental, Delhi’s chief fire officer. “We have to be inspectors and fight fires. We do not have the manpower.”

The city has around 1,700 firefighters, he said, which is less than an eighth of the number in New York, a city with less than half of Delhi’s population.


The fire is believed to have begun on the hotel’s first floor, spreading quickly through wood-panelled corridors, police say. Among the dead were members of a wedding party from Kerala and a two Buddhist pilgrims from Myanmar.

“From the outside, the building looked intact, but inside everything was completely charred,” a police officer told Reuters.

Two of the 17 died after jumping out of windows in desperation after failing to find emergency exits, added the officer, who declined to be named as he is not authorised to talk to the media.

“Fire preparedness is a matter of shockingly low priority in most parts of the country,” said an editorial in the Indian Express, one of the country’s leading newspapers.

A 2018 study by India’s home ministry that found the country had just 2,000 of more than 8,500 fire stations it needs.

More than 17,000 people died in fires in 2015, according to data from the ministry, the last year for which figures are available, one of the largest causes of accidental death in India.

Fire safety is an issue for shanty towns and some of the country’s most expensive real estate.

A day after the Arpit Palace disaster, more than 250 makeshift homes were destroyed in a slum in Paschim Puri, a poor area of New Delhi, though no one was killed.

In 2017, 14 people were killed during a birthday party at a high-end bar in India’s financial capital Mumbai.

In several upscale neighbourhoods in Delhi, police shut hundreds of shops and restaurants last year for trading on floors meant for residential use, though many continue to operate illegally, residents say.

By the boarded-up Arpit Palace in the Karol Bagh area of New Delhi, wires from adjacent hotels still trail across the street, though staff there told Reuters they were complying with fire regulations.

Adding to the safety problems, poorly paid staff in the hotel and restaurant industries are often unable to help guests when fires break out, Kental said.

“They are not trained. They don’t know what to do in the event of a fire,” he said.

Source: Reuters


China to lift another ten million people out of poverty in 2019

BEIJING, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) — China will continue to work vigorously to reduce poverty and lift no less than ten million people out of poverty in 2019, to lay a solid foundation for winning the battle against poverty, the State Council’s executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Monday.

The year 2018 saw China launch its three-year actions in fighting the battle against poverty. Premier Li Keqiang vowed to reduce the poor population by ten million each year in all his government work reports over the past five years. He gave specific instructions on ways to push forward this work and to better manage the poverty alleviation funds.

According to the progress update at the Monday meeting, 13.86 million people were lifted out of poverty in 2018, thanks to the dedicated efforts by local authorities and competent departments in implementing the decisions made by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council.

Figures from the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development show that the new approach of poverty relief by developing emerging industries in poor areas such as e-commerce, photovoltaics and country tourism has paid off. Infrastructure development in poor areas has been accelerated. Some 208,000 kilometers of rural roads were built or renovated in 2018. New progress was made in upgrading the power grid in poor areas. And 94 percent of the poor villages are now covered by broadband internet services.

“We must strive to meet the poverty alleviation target for this year. Making poverty history by 2020 is the solemn commitment our Party and government have made to the people. We must fulfill this commitment by ensuring full delivery of all related policies and consolidating the progress we have made,” Li said.

It was decided at the meeting that efforts will be intensified this year to help the deeply poor areas. Increase in the poverty alleviation fund under the central government budget will be mainly channeled to these areas. Projects under the 13th Five-Year Plan that help enhance the weak links of poor areas will be prioritized.

The meeting urged to stick to current standard, and the cross-regional pairing arrangements for poverty alleviation will be enhanced. The difficulties poor people face in meeting the five essential needs of food, clothing, compulsory education, basic healthcare and a place to live will be tackled down to every household.

Counties that have emerged from poverty and their populations shall remain eligible for related policy incentives by 2020, the final-stage year in fighting poverty. Records of those who fall back into poverty and the newly discovered poor will be promptly established to provide them support. The meeting urged to cut the poor population by another ten million this year to lay a solid foundation for winning the final battle against poverty.

“We must strictly enforce the poverty criteria involving the five essential needs of food, clothing, compulsory education, basic healthcare and a place to live,” Li said, “Every penny of the poverty alleviation funds must be used effectively and transparently.”

Source: Xinhua


Inner Mongolia to lift 140,000 people out of poverty

HOHHOT, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) — North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region will help 140,000 people and all its county-level regions escape poverty in 2019, local authorities said Monday.

Governments at all levels invested 10.1 billion yuan (1.5 billion U.S. dollars) of special poverty-relief fund in 2018, up 25 percent year on year, lifting 235,000 people out of poverty, it said.

About 332,000 government officials attended training sessions for poverty alleviation last year.

The regional government said the poverty headcount ratio had dropped to 1.06 percent by the end of last year.

In 2019, the government will strengthen the implementation of poverty relief policies, deepen cooperation with Beijing city on fighting poverty and boost its featured industries to create more jobs and income for local people.

Source: Xinhua


‘We must send our best to the front line’: Xi Jinping goes all out to rid China of poverty in three years | South China Morning Post

If China success, it will have proven wrong Matthew 26:11: “The poor will always be with you”.

China is going all out in an unprecedented effort to lift its population out of poverty by 2020, while simultaneously strengthening its grip at the grassroots level.

Xinhua has released the full transcript of President Xi Jinping’s remarks in June on the ambitious campaign. The speech contains many specific details regarding how Xi intends to achieve the goal of meeting the basic needs of all of the country’s rural poor in three years.

The transcript was released on the same day as Beijing’s announcement of the October 18 opening date for the 19th Party Congress. Poverty alleviation is expected to be a policy priority for Xi in his second term.

In the June speech, Xi highlighted the importance of combining the building out of the Communist Party’s grassroots apparatus with poverty alleviation.

“We must send our best talents to the front line of the tough battle with extreme poverty,” Xi told cadres while announcing his precise measures aimed at reducing poverty.

Beijing vows to get tough in war on poverty“All levels of government should actively send cadres to station in poor villages in an effort to fortify the party leadership,” he said.

County governments should take the lead in poverty alleviation, Xi said, adding that having stable leadership at the county level was essential. County leaders who perform well in poverty alleviation should be promoted, he said.Xi said the government should precisely identify its poor and the reasons for their poverty to derive appropriate measures to help them.“

The priority for the next stage is to solve the problems of social services, infrastructure and a basic medical services shortage in areas with deep-rooted poverty issues,” Xi said.

He said the government would step up the campaign to move residents from areas with extremely poor living conditions, hire local people to protect forests in ecologically fragile areas, and strengthen assistance to rural poor who suffer with serious illness.

Xi Jinping’s biggest ally returns to the limelight to support Chinese leader’s war against poverty

Meanwhile, Xi also is prepared to strengthen government funding and prioritise land distribution to meet development needs as part of a basket of precise measures aimed at eradicating extreme poverty.

His programme also includes improving public services such as medical care, education, vocational training, transportation and infrastructure to add jobs and develop industries in some of China’s poorest areas.

Ever since taking the helm, Xi has researched and travelled extensively to extremely poor areas as poverty reduction is a key political target for the Communist Party and the central government. The official goal is to eliminate poverty, defined as annual income of less than 2,300 yuan (HK$2,728), and build an “all-round well-off society” by 2020 with all resources available.

In China, rural rich get richer and poor get poorer

The 13th Five Year Plan has set important targets for the country on this matter and progress in poverty alleviation would play a role in assessing cadres’ performance.

Shanghai-based political commentator Chen Daoyin said poverty alleviation is close to Xi’s heart as it helps the party to solidify its political support in the grassroots where most of the nation’s population lives.

“As his next term begins, one can expect that’s where he will dedicate his power on,” Chen said in an interview.

“Not only it is an easy way out for him to win hearts of the mass but also a way to justify the party’s governance on a grassroots level in order to maintain political stability.

China’s final push to eradicate poverty will be difficult but not impossible if handled in a clean, transparent manner“

China’s poorest takes up the majority of the population and all their problems are about staying warm and fed, which is easy to address compared to the more affluent bunch on the eastern part of the nation,” Chen said.

As of last year, China still has more than 55 million people in rural areas who live below the poverty line. Twelve million people were lifted out of poverty last year and another 10 million people would be taken off the rolls this year.

Source: ‘We must send our best to the front line’: Xi Jinping goes all out to rid China of poverty in three years | South China Morning Post


The last, toughest mile: China’s new approach to beating poverty | The Economist

MOST of Tian Shuang’s relatives are herding goats in the barren hills of Ningxia province, one of the poorest parts of western China. But last year Mr Tian came down to Minning, a small town in the valley, when the local government, as part of an anti-poverty programme, gave him a job growing mushrooms and ornamental plants in a commercial nursery garden. His name, address and income (20,000 yuan a year, or $2,900—six times the minimum wage) are written on a board by its greenhouse door.

Mr Tian’s name is also pinned up on the walls of the town hall, along with those of 409 other people in the area who, without help, would be living below the local poverty line of 3,200 yuan a year (this is about 40% above the national minimum, but still not enough to buy meat more than once a week, or to spend on new clothes). The town lists the problems and requirements of each of its poor people. Thirty-seven are poor because of health problems; 77—including some of Mr Tian’s relatives—live in isolated, inhospitable areas; 95 are physically handicapped, and so on. Also listed is the help given by the government to each person, such as the provision of work, a solar generator or a cow.

Minning is a model town. Its poverty-alleviation scheme was set up by Xi Jinping, China’s president, between 1999 and 2002 when he was governor of Fujian, a wealthy province in the south. (Fujian is twinned with Ningxia as part of a national attempt to spread expertise and money from rich to poor areas.) The system that Minning pioneered is now spreading throughout China. It focuses on poor individuals, and on drawing up specific plans for each, rather than merely helping poor places to develop in the hope that wealth will trickle down to the poorest. Other countries are trying this, too, but China is one of the few developing nations with a bureaucracy big enough and bossy enough to do it well.

China has been a hero of the world’s poverty-reduction efforts. It has eradicated poverty in cities (by its definition, at least) and reduced the number of rural people below the official poverty line of 2,300 yuan a year at 2010 prices from 775m in 1980 to 43m in 2016 (see chart). Its aim now is to have no one under the line by 2020.Two years ago Mr Xi set this as one of the main jobs of his presidency. He calls it “the baseline task for building a moderately prosperous society” (which the Communist Party wants to create by its 100th birthday in 2021). Politically, poverty reduction matters because, as one party member says, unless China solves the problem of income inequality, the party’s legitimacy will be questioned. The party owes its power to a revolt fuelled by the miseries of the countryside. It does not want to be accused of failing to fulfil its mandate to eliminate them.

But the last stage of poverty reduction will be the most difficult. China’s success so far has been based largely on economic growth, which has generated jobs for the able-bodied. The final stage will be costly and complicated because many of the remaining poor are people who, because of physical or mental disabilities, cannot hold down jobs. A recent government survey found that 46% of China’s poor were poor because of their health.

Targeting individuals will help. By 2014 the government had compiled a “poverty-household registry” of every person and household below the poverty line. The following year it said a personalised poverty-alleviation plan must be drawn up for everyone included. The Philippines and Mexico also have such registries—they can help with monitoring the status of the poor, identifying their needs and (in theory) preventing waste and corruption.

There are signs that China’s is indeed improving its main form of poor relief, which is called “subsistence guarantee”, or dibao. The dibao programme has been notoriously inefficient. Many households that qualify for payments do not receive them because of corruption and bureaucratic failings. A survey by the World Bank found that between 2007 and 2009 just 10% of those that did get the dibao had household incomes below the poverty line (ie, 90% did not qualify for the handouts they were getting). The system is also corrupt. In 2015 an official in Henan province was found to have 267 bank deposit books in the names of extremely poor people, from which he had misappropriated 500,000 yuan of welfare payments.

But this may be changing. Poor people are getting more job training, as in Minning. There has been a crackdown on corruption. Ben Westmore of the OECD, a club mostly of rich countries, recently trawled through household data from five provinces collected by researchers at Peking University. He found that in 2014 about a third of rural households receiving dibao paymentswere below the poverty line—not good, but better than 10%. In Guangdong province in the south, an early starter in its focus on individual needs, more than half of recipients were below the line.

Still, there is a long way to go: most poor households still do not get dibao money. In the sample studied by Mr Westmore, three-quarters of them did not. It hardly helps that the poverty registry and dibao data are kept by different government departments; the two are not linked.

The dibao programme, though financed largely by the national government, is administered locally. This means local areas may set their own poverty lines and benefits. Some thresholds are far below the national minimum, and payments are barely enough to live on. Total dibao spending peaked in 2013 and has been falling since then—partly because governments are getting stingier. China spends a mere 0.2% of GDP on the dibao system, far below comparable programmes elsewhere. Indonesia’s poverty relief costs 0.5% of GDP.

Worse, some poor people are not even included in the registry. In a village of 100 poor households in Shanxi province, only ten families are in it—friends of the party boss. If the registry is flawed, poverty relief is all the more likely to be flawed too.

All these efforts are aimed only at extreme poverty in the countryside. The government claims the urban kind does not exist, ie, that no one in cities has less than 2,300 yuan a year. But that minimum is too low for cities, where living costs are higher. Using more realistic thresholds, Mr Westmore found that urban poverty was actually higher than rural poverty in four of the five provinces covered by the data he used.

At current rates of reduction (more than 10m fewer people annually in extreme poverty), Mr Xi should be able meet his target by 2020. It will be hailed as a great achievement. But huge government effort will still be needed to help the worse-off. It will not be the end of poverty in China.

Source: The last, toughest mile: China’s new approach to beating poverty | The Economist


This Is Just How Unequal India Is – India Real Time – WSJ

New report from Oxfam highlights how the country’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few

Country Percentage of wealth top 1% has
























New Zealand


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The richest 1% of Indians hold 58% of the country’s total wealth, according to Oxfam India.

The stark inequality in India is worse than the global data put out by the organization, which show that the richest 1% have more than 50% of the total world wealth, Oxfam said.

It said recently improved data on the distribution of wealth, particularly in countries like India and China, indicate that the poorest half of the world has less wealth was previously thought. Oxfam singled out India repeatedly in the report.

It said that companies are increasingly driven to pay higher returns to their shareholders. In India, the amount of profits corporations share with shareholders is as high as 50% and growing rapidly, the report said.

A family sits atop a pile of hay on a horse cart on a highway near Amritsar, India, Nov. 4, 2016.

The report said the annual share dividends paid by from Zara’s parent company to Amancio Ortega – the world’s second richest man – are equal to around 800,000 times the annual wage of a worker employed by a garment factory in India.

Oxfam said that the combined wealth of India’s 57 billionaires is equivalent to that of the country’s poorest 70%.“India is hitting the global headlines for many reasons, but one of them is for being one of the most unequal countries in the world with a very high and sharply rising concentration of income and wealth,” Nisha Agarwal, chief executive of Oxfam said in a statement.

Oxfam said India should introduce an inheritance tax and raise its wealth levies as well as increasing public spending on health and education. It said it should end the era of tax havens and crack down on rich people and corporations avoiding tax.

Source: This Is Just How Unequal India Is – India Real Time – WSJ

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