Lawmakers call for including non-governmental groups in social assistance

2012-10-25 12:22:30 GMT2012-10-25 20:22:30(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BEIJING, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- Lawmakers urged the government to encourage and support non-governmental organizations' efforts to offer social assistance at a panel discussion held Thursday.

The government should be more flexible in terms of including non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in social assistance programs and offering supportive policies, said Yan Yixin, a member of the Standing Committee of National People's Congress (NPC), at a panel discussion of a report on social assistance delivered by Civil Affairs Minister Li Liguo on Wednesday at the committee's bi-monthly session.

Regulation- and policy-related barriers are preventing NGOs from engaging in charity work, Yan said.

Pan Xuehong, a NPC deputy from south China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, said the government and NGOs can work together to help needy people.

"Cooperation can be realized through government purchases of services from NGOs," she said. "In some areas, NGOs can greatly supplement the government's work."

The lawmakers said the participation of NGOs will also help to increase investment in social assistance.

About 5.6 percent of Chinese are now covered by the country's minimum living standard program, which dispenses allowances to needy people, according to Wednesday's report.

The average size of the monthly allowance for urban residents hit 311 yuan (about 49 U.S. dollars) in June, with average monthly allowances of 159 yuan for rural residents, according to the report.

Several lawmakers called for drafting and adopting a law on social assistance as soon as possible, adding that the administration should allocate more social assistance funds and resources at the community level.

"Since coverage for social assistance programs is expanding, we need more officials and funds to carry out related work, such as interviewing needy families and checking their qualifications," said Wu Jinliang, a NPC deputy from north China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

Wednesday's report said more government spending on social assistance is urgently needed and more resources and personnel should be arranged at the community level.

Fang Xin, an NPC Standing Committee member, said the administration should reform the concept of social assistance by not only providing allowances for needy people, but also teaching them skills to improve their lives.

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