BEIJING, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government recently called for improvements in the management and supervision of the country's subsistence allowance system in order to promote social equity and justice, reflecting the people-oriented concept of the Scientific Outlook on Development.
Obtaining subsistence allowances from the government is a basic right for citizens with per capita household incomes below the local minimum subsistence level.
The subsistence allowance system is an important part of China's human rights cause, as the right to subsistence and development stands as the first and foremost aspect of human rights and is also conducive to narrowing the widening income gap between rural and urban areas.
China established the subsistence allowance system in the late 1990s. After more than a decade of economic and social development, the country has formulated an extensive "safety net," which has effectively guaranteed the basic living expenses of disadvantaged rural and urban families.
The "safety net" plays a key role in alleviating poverty, maintaining social equality and stability and narrowing the urban-rural gap.
Efforts should be made to enable the allowances to be distributed in a fair and transparent manner.
A State Council meeting on July 25, presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, made working arrangements for strengthening the regulation of the subsistence allowances.
It asked township governments or neighborhood committees to conduct household surveys and democratic appraisals before distributing allowances.
The examination process should be transparent, efficient and fair, and those no longer eligible for subsistence allowances should withdraw from the system in a timely manner, according to the meeting, which also encouraged the public to supervise the system.
The system is not only about handing out fish, but also teaching people to fish. Local governments have strengthened re-employment training for allowance recipients and offered preferential policies for the schooling of recipients' children.
The special policies have greatly encouraged low-income earners to find jobs and earn more money so as to withdraw from the subsistence allowance system.
By the end of last year, more than 22.76 million urbanites and 53.06 million rural people in China were eligible for subsistence allowances. Last year, the average monthly urban subsistence level was 287.6 yuan (45.65 U.S. dollars) per person, up 14.5 percent year on year, and 143.2 yuan per person in rural areas, up 22.4 percent.
Such a "safety net" meets the demand of the underprivileged and is indispensable in the construction of a harmonious society.