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Dongguan Govt Miscalculates Number of Poor
Update: 7/24/2008 3:08:00 AM Source: Dongguan Hotel


 DONGGUAN, Guangdong: A miscalculation by the local government has led to the postponement of a plan to pay subsidies to poor people in this Pearl River Delta city, a senior official said yesterday.

The government had earlier said it would make one-off payments of 1,000 yuan ($146) to each low-income family.

But after handing out more than 30 million yuan, the payments are now on hold until the number of eligible households is determined, Zheng Jintang, deputy director of the Dongguan civil affairs bureau, said.

"As of Wednesday, more than 160,000 people had applied for the subsidy, and we are yet to receive figures from 15 (of 28) towns," he said.

"The number of applicants is likely to be twice as high as our original estimate."

The government calculated that 122,000 people would apply for the subsidy and allocated a budget of 122 million yuan. The families were scheduled to receive the money before the end of June, Zheng said.

The inaccurate estimate is probably due to a miscalculation of low-income earners, defined as having a monthly income of between 401 yuan and 600 yuan, he said.

The city government said earlier the payments would be made to those already on minimum wage subsidies, including the disabled, elderly people with no family and orphans.

Yesterday, Shenzhen Evening News said that it is easy to identify the number of disabled and elderly people, but calculating exactly how many people earn between 401 yuan and 600 yuan is very difficult, as some people falsify their applications.

"The city needs to agree a new budget and take more time to verify exactly who is entitled to the money," Zheng said, without giving a timescale.

A report published yesterday in Guangzhou Daily said the municipal government had identified a number of claims from people who are not entitled to the subsidy.

Suspicions were accused after more than 46,000 people, about 62 percent of the population, in the town of Zhongtang applied for the subsidy, the report said.

Also, governments in some other towns said they dared not submit their lists of applicants out of fears that those who did not get the subsidy might start trouble, it said.

Xu Bingbing, a lecturer of public administration at Jinan University in Guangzhou, said while the Dongguan government has shown generous intent, it should have given more thought to the calculation process and the scheme's implementation.

"Without a proper scientific investigation, the government will face problems calculating the number of people and with the plan's implementation," she said.

Editor: canton fair

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