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The Power of Recovery
Special> The Power of Recovery
UPDATED: July 28, 2008 NO.31 JUL.31, 2008
Reconstructing Step by Step
Beijing Review reporter Feng Jianhua interviewed Wang Guangsi, Vice Director of the Sichuan Development and Reform Commission, about Sichuan's reconstruction plan

NEED THE BREAD: A woman from Sichuan Province makes stuffed bread buns for earthquake victims. She was trained by a company from Hubei Province that has been helping with relief work

On May 22, 10 days after the Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan Province, the State Council formed the Post-earthquake Reconstruction Planning Group, deciding to work out a general reconstruction plan within a period of three months.

Sichuan was the worst-hit area of China, so reconstruction work there will have a direct influence on how plans proceed in other areas. On July 18, Beijing Review reporter Feng Jianhua interviewed Wang Guangsi, Vice Director of the Sichuan Development and Reform Commission, about Sichuan's reconstruction plan.

Beijing Review: The State Council required that the general plan for reconstruction and nine specific plans should come out within three months after the earthquake. How is the work going now?

Wang Guangsi: The reconstruction plans, including an overall plan and nine specific plans, of different quake-hit provinces and cities, should be formulated firstly by the provincial and municipal development and reform commission, and be forwarded to the Post-earthquake Reconstruction Planning Group of the State Council, which will make a national reconstruction plan.

On May 19, Sichuan Provincial Government organized the Post-earthquake Reconstruction Planning Group, which was led by the Sichuan Development and Reform Commission. There are more than 300 people in this group, including officials from Sichuan Provincial Government, people from the six areas in Sichuan that were hit worst by the earthquake, and experts from national research institutes. After 53 days of hard work, the group developed a reconstruction plan of Sichuan.Now we are leading the six areas that were hit worst by the earthquake to make detailed plans according to the different conditions in each place. In a whole, there is no problem to finish the entire reconstruction plan within three months.

What is the target for the reconstruction plan of Sichuan Province?

When we made the reconstruction plan, we adhered to the following principles, or targets. Firstly, we wanted to create a safe living environment for the local people; secondly, repair the infrastructure, public service institutions and trade system; thirdly, help local people develop their own industries; fourthly, establish a complete social security system to ensure social stability during reconstruction; and finally, provide more opportunities for rural people who wanted to go to large cities for work.

Some experts said the principle on the after-quake work should be "saving time for rescuing people while taking time for reconstruction." What difficulties did you meet in developing a plan within such a short time?

We encountered many difficulties in making the reconstruction plan since we had to finish it within a very short time. We had to make clear four aspects of the situation, which could be regarded as prime elements of planning. These four aspects included evaluation of the earthquake, evaluation of geological damage, evaluation of the resource and environment and the opinions of people living in quake-hit areas.

Since time was limited we had to make plans in the process of getting the necessary information. Normally, we would make a general plan before the specific plans, but in this case we must make all the plans at the same time.

We have modified the plan more than 20 times. We have collected materials of almost 150 million words in order to make a proper plan. Some of the materials are about people's experience in fighting against earthquakes and related scientific results from other parts of the world.

Is there still a large shortfall in the reconstruction funds of Sichuan? If so, how will you solve this problem?

Actually, we do have a shortfall in the reconstruction funds. According to the latest research, 39 counties in Sichuan suffered a total loss of 1.2 trillion yuan ($176 billion). While the Central Government allocated 70 billion yuan ($10 billion), and there were donations from other sources, the total amount of funds is just 120 billion yuan ($17.6 billion). Obviously, this is far from enough.

In order to solve this problem, Sichuan Provincial Government is planning to take various measures. Specifically, we will adopt bank loans with the government paying the interest for three years for the reconstruction of houses for quake victims and enterprises. Besides, as well as introducing preferential policies to encourage donations, we will also establish aid funds and special bonds, cooperation bonds and lotteries to raise money. Another important measure is to mobilize people in quake-hit areas to rely on themselves and adopt step-by-step reconstruction.

How will you ensure the efficient usage of the post-earthquake reconstruction funds and effectively prevent corruption?

How to effectively utilize and manage the reconstruction funds is a key aspect of the post-earthquake plan. We are using several methods. Firstly, we have strengthened the supervision of the entire process of using reconstruction funds; secondly, we have enhanced transparency in using the funds and involved many common people in the inspection and decision-making process; thirdly, we have strengthened management of the funds by inspecting every link in the use of them; and finally, we have established an evaluation system for the efficient use of funds and have made it an important factor in local officials' merit system.

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