Poor poverty relief results can stymie official careers

By Liu Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/31 23:18:39

Nation on target to eradicate extreme poverty by 2020

China has set a stricter accountability system to evaluate officials' performance on poverty alleviation, punishing officials who fail to accomplish missions or barring them from promotion.

It is a move that experts said shows the central government's resolve to eliminate extreme poverty before 2020.

The State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development conducted a national evaluation of officials' performance in poverty relief work in 2016, and asked the senior officials of four provinces with poor poverty alleviation performances to have meetings with the office, according to a report from the State Council Tuesday.

The results of the evaluation will be submitted to the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) as an important reference on the evaluation of provincial Party and government heads, Liu Yongfu, director of the leading office, said in a report on poverty relief work on Tuesday.

"The State Council has always put much effort into poverty relief. The government work reports in the past four years all promised to lift at least 10 million people out of poverty," Liu said, adding that 775,000 officials have been sent to impoverished areas to work in poverty relief.

"Poverty alleviation work has become one of the core policies since the 18th National Congress of the CPC [in 2012]. And 2017 is a crucial year as the remaining pockets of poverty are more difficult to tackle - impoverished people living in remote areas and areas of resource scarcity," Du Xiaoshan, a researcher at the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

China has set 2020 as the target year to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society, which requires the eradication of extreme poverty.

From 1978 to 2016, about 730 million Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty. As of the end of 2016, there were 43.35 million Chinese living below the country's poverty line of a 2,300 yuan ($349) annual income abased on 2010 prices, accounting for about 3 percent of China's population.

Missed targets

Liu said in the report on Tuesday that problems have recently emerged, as some areas announced they had eradicated extreme poverty despite having failed to reach the required standards on education, medical care and housing. People were therefore likely to sink back into poverty when follow-up policies lag behind after they have been relocated.

China plans to relocate 3.4 million people from poverty-stricken communities to more developed areas in 2017, the National Development and Reform Commission announced in February. These people will be relocated from areas with scarce resources to new areas where housing, infrastructure and public services are developed for them to start new life.

"A stricter evaluation process, including accountability of officials, has been introduced to push the poverty alleviation efforts," Wang Sangui, a professor at the School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development of Renmin University of China, who specializes in rural poverty studies, told the Global Times.

A total of 12 Party organizations and 49 officials have been held accountable and 22 were disciplined for their poor performance in poverty relief work in the Qianxinan Buyei and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in Southwest China's Guizhou Province.

"Tougher evaluation systems for officials will push them to conduct door-to-door surveys of low income families, making targeted measures and encouraging these people to work together with the government to overcome poverty," Wang said, adding that the engagement of low income families is crucial for sustainable poverty relief work around China.

Not allowing promotions or job changes for officials working in impoverished areas is another policy to curb bureaucracy and encourage officials to implement poverty alleviation policies, Du said. He noted that all these efforts to monitor officials reveal the government's resolve to eradicate extreme poverty.

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