BEIJING, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- China will make greater efforts to secure the basic livelihood of the people in hardship and meet their basic living needs, according to the decision made at the State Council's Executive Meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday.
The meeting noted that having basic living needs met is a key concern of the people and the due responsibility of governments at all levels. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters, the number of people in difficulty has seen an increase.
Related government departments in various regions have increased support for securing the basic livelihood of people in hardship. In the first half of the year, more than 120 billion yuan (17.63 billion U.S. dollars) of fiscal funds were spent in providing subsistence allowance and other subsidies across the nation, marking a 7 percent increase year on year. Efforts will be intensified to provide support and meet people's essential needs.
"We always put the people first. At present, particularly in the face of COVID-19 and natural disasters, we must scale up assistance and support for people in difficulty and ensure their basic living needs," Li said.
The meeting urged full implementation of the policy to expand the coverage of subsistence allowance. Dynamic monitoring will be enhanced, to see that those eligible for subsistence allowance will be covered on a timely basis. A one-off living subsidy will be given to subsistence allowance recipients and other people in need, and the funds must be delivered as quickly as possible.
Greater assistance will be extended to people in distress. The policy of providing temporary, one-time relief allowance must be promptly implemented.
The meeting stressed that from September 2022 to March 2023, the mechanism of raising social benefits pro rata with price increase will be adjusted on a time-limited basis. On top of the existing seven groups, including people living on subsistence allowance and orphans, the mechanism will be extended to cover those receiving unemployment subsidy and those nearing the eligibility threshold of subsistence allowance.
The expanded policy measures will cover 67 million people in total. One of the triggers of the mechanism, the CPI monthly increase year on year, will be lowered to 3 percent from the previous 3.5 percent.
"We must step up dynamic monitoring to detect, in a timely manner, people who have lost jobs and those eligible for subsistence allowance or in temporary distress. Social protection and assistance should be expanded whenever needed, to see that all eligible people are duly covered and provided for. The mechanism of raising social benefits pro rata with price increase should be promptly activated as the situation requires," Li said.
The central government will provide factors-based, proportionate funding subsidy for the increased local expenditures from expanding the coverage of subsistence allowance and other relief schemes and adjusting the pro rata price increase mechanism. The funds will be disbursed by the local authorities in advance and settled later under the central public finance.
Local governments must earnestly fulfil their due responsibilities and provide more targeted assistance and support in a more timely manner. Fraudulent obtainment, misappropriation and embezzlement of the funds will be resolutely dealt with.
The meeting also decided on measures to support the elderly care and childcare industries to help them overcome difficulties and restore growth.
"The elderly care and childcare industries are closely related to people's lives, and play an important role in taking care of the aged and the under-aged. The relevant market entities are facing difficulties. We must step up support for them," Li said.
Rentals of state-owned properties will be waived through the end of the year for micro, small and medium-sized businesses and the self-employed; localities where conditions permit will adopt practical and effective measures to support reduction or exemption of rentals by owners of private properties.
The existing value added tax (VAT) credits of elderly care and childcare service providers will be refunded in one lump sum, and the increased credits will be refunded on a monthly basis. Cuts in the six local taxes and two fees (namely, resource tax, urban maintenance and construction tax, real-estate tax, urban land use tax, stamp tax and tax of farmland used for non-agricultural purposes as well as education surcharge and local education surcharge) will be made to the full extent possible within this year. ■