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Chinese gov't beefs up rural spending to reduce poverty: white paper

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BEIJING, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- China has continuously boosted government spending in the past seven years to reduce rural poverty, a white paper on poverty alleviation said Wednesday.

The outlays from the central coffer on agriculture, farmers and rural areas increased from 214.42 billion yuan (33.8 billion U.S. dollars) in 2003 to 857.97 billion yuan in 2010, said the white paper released by the Information Office of the State Council.

That represented an annual rise of 21.9 percent on average, according to the white paper.

"China's poverty reduction program is, to a large extent, nothing but solving the poverty problem in the rural areas" as the country has a large rural population living in poverty, it said.

Some supportive policies for farmers were first carried out in impoverished areas, such as the scrapping of agricultural taxes and the canceling of tuition and other fees for poor rural students in primary and junior middle schools, the white paper noted.

It said the government has also invested heavily to improve the rural social security system.

In 2010, civil affairs departments paid 1.4 billion yuan in subsidies to help 46 million residents join the new rural cooperative medical care system, it said.

As of the end of 2010, 52 million people in rural areas were covered by the government's subsistence allowance system, which provides such basic necessities as food, clothing, water and electricity, it added.

By July this year, a pilot project for the new type of old-age insurance for rural residents launched in 2009 had extended to 60 percent of China's rural areas, said the white paper.

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