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Efforts needed to plug big welfare loopholes

Only when those in need receive the minimum living allowance will this form of state aid fulfill its proper role of redistributing social wealth in a fair manner and thus ease the gap between the haves and have-nots.

The fact that more than 7,000 relatives of officials at various levels were deprived of the privilege to such allowances in East China’s Jiangxi province alone sends the message that there is much to be desired in the way such welfare is distributed.

The province’s civil affairs department has promised that it intends to publish the names of those who are entitled to receive such welfare and that it will closely check the entitlement of those who receive the allowance. Relatives of officials who receive such social benefits will be kept on file to prevent fraud.

At the weekend, the Beijing civil affairs department also revealed that it is considering setting up a joint mechanism, along with the departments of public security, finance and construction, to check the possessions, such as houses, cars and saving deposits, of those receiving the minimum living allowance. The department will also regularly examine whether such welfare recipients’ financial conditions have changed to see if they are no longer entitled to receive welfare.

In September, the Ministry of Civil Affairs issued a document requiring governments at all levels to crack down on welfare cheating. The audit report by the state audit authorities in June 2010 revealed that 62,900 recipients in 194 counties and districts were not entitled to welfare. Of these people, 11,900 households had their own businesses or more than two houses or private cars.

When the state welfare, that is meant to help the destitute, turns out to be a channel for the haves or those who have power to get extra money, this is not just a matter of state policy being bent, it also erodes social stability.

If so many cheats can succeed, there must be big loopholes in the mechanism to select recipients.

What Jiangxi province has achieved suggests that cheats are not that difficult to catch as long as a local government is willing to put in the necessary effort and carefully design an assessment and supervision mechanism.

(China Daily, Jan. 4)
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