Rural Tibetan Family Life Improves with Gov't Support
   2011-05-14 15:14:11    Xinhua      Web Editor: Gong

On the niche where Buddha statues stand in Tseten Norbu's house, a picture of the late 10th Panchen Lama is placed side by side with that of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong.

"Today we live such a comfortable life because of the help from the government and blessings of Buddha," says the 63-year-old farmer living at the village of Rinchen near Lhasa, the regional capital of Tibet Autonomous Region.

Tseten Norbu and his family moved into the new two-floor house in March.

To build the 201-square-meter house, he spent 20,000 yuan (about 2,900 U.S. dollars) of his savings and used another 20,000 yuan obtained from the local bank as an interest free loan, while the local government provided an assistance package of 170,000 yuan.

The new house is bigger, cleaner with a modern toilet and stronger with its concrete framework, he says.

"We used to keep the cattle on the first floor of our old house. It was pretty smelly. Now the new house has a separated stable," he says.

Since 2006 the government of Tibet Autonomous Region has relocated farmers and nomads who lived in remote and barren areas to places with better natural environments and transport facilities. The government has covered the main cost of building the new residences for them.

Over the past five years, about 275,000 households in Tibet received government assistance to build new houses, according to a government statement.

"Besides the housing, from providing support to mothers giving birth to taking care of the elderly, the government has offered various kinds of assistance," Tseten Norbu says.

China's "one-child" policy does not apply to rural Tibetans but policies are in place to encourage them to have fewer children.

If a couple has no more than two children, they will receive 750 yuan per child a year until he or she turns 18.

This year, a new allowance is being handed out to people over 60. Each of them gets 50 yuan a month.

"Seven out of 10 members in my family have also joined a pension program for rural residents," Tseten Norbu says.

People in Tseten Norbu's village are covered by a government medical insurance program.

"This year, the annual quota of medical expense reimbursement for a person rose from 6,000 yuan to 8,000 yuan while the annual deposit of the medical insurance increased from 10 to 20 yuan," he says.

"Last year, my granddaughter got sick and it cost 500 yuan to see the doctor at the county hospital. About 400 yuan of that was refunded."

Tseten Norbu has 1.28 hectares of farmland, growing barley, peas and other vegetables.

"Each year I will get 150 yuan of allowance from the government for growing staples like barley," he says.

If he buys a tractor, he will enjoy a discount of 30 percent and an allowance of 450 yuan per hectare annually for the gasoline, according to Tseten Norbu.

Since December 2007, the Chinese government has offered an allowance to rural residents who want to buy electric appliances.

"I spent 1,100 yuan on my new fridge which had a retail price of 1,500 yuan," Tseten Norbu says.

"I also received a discount on two new cabinets. This is a special policy in Tibet only. We can get a discount on furniture."

According to the local government, rural residents in Tibet have received 25 sorts of government allowance.

Besides the allowance, the government has also worked out preferential policies to help farmers and nomads develop businesses.

Recently Tseten Norbu has been thinking of joining a micro-credit program run by the government.

"I can borrow three female yaks or 30 female sheep from the government, which are worth in total about 9,000 yuan. Within five years, I will return the same number, which will be the offspring of the original ones, to the government and the rest animals are all mine," he said.


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