Lottery sales boost the elderly's welfare

Updated: 2011-10-27 08:42

By He Dan (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Half of the public welfare funds raised from lottery sales from 2011 to 2015 - estimated to be 200 billion yuan ($31 billion) - will be allocated to improve social services for the elderly, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Civil affairs departments will be required to distribute at least 50 percent of the revenue from lottery sales to build nursing homes and facilities for the elderly, said Dou Yupei, vice-minister of civil affairs, on Wednesday.

With the money, China plans to add 3.36 million beds in nursing homes, ensuring that three beds will be available for every 100 seniors by the end of 2015, Dou said during a news conference in Beijing.

China is now home to more than 178 million people aged 60 or above, accounting for about 13 percent of the population.

Dou also revealed at the meeting that the Ministry of Civil Affairs will soon release the first report on how the public welfare fund has been used and whether it has been used effectively. He stressed that an independent party conducted the report, without identifying the agency's name.

It will become a requirement for the government to regularly disclose information on distribution and spending of the public welfare fund, he said.

China started the welfare lottery in 1987. This year, as of Oct 23, more than 100 billion yuan worth of lottery tickets were sold, a rise of 30 percent year-on-year.

The total value of welfare lottery sales has accumulated to 600 billion yuan since 1987, of which one-third was distributed as public welfare funds, said Bao Xuequan, director of the China Welfare Lottery Issuing and Management Center.

More than 80 billion yuan of the public welfare funds have been used, benefiting 200 million people, said Wang Suying, deputy director of the social welfare and charity promotion department under the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Projects funded by the government's lottery revenue include building or expanding nursing homes for the old, funding orphanages and rescue centers for the homeless, and helping the disabled and people living in poverty.

An estimated 47,000 orphans with disabilities received free surgery and rehabilitation treatment funded by 800 million yuan from public welfare funds in the past seven years, according to Wang.

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