Posted by: Dexter Roberts on May 22, 2008
Even as Chinese officials put out the plea for help, including by donating tents, in a massive effort to house an estimated five million people left without homes in the Sichuan earthquake, Beijing also has announced a massive financial package. Some $10 billion has been pledged for reconstruction and $3.6 billion for relief, premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday.
The sum is large enough to require a five percent cut in the central governments budget for this year and will necessitate some tightening of belts. According to the May 21st Xinhua report: Wen “ordered government organizations and public institutions at all levels to decrease their spending on meetings and business travel and freeze the approval of any new office buildings for government bodies. He called on the public to practice a frugal lifestyle to support the reconstruction of quake-stricken areas.”
At the same time, China announced that donations from home and abroad (yes, from overseas too with more than $200 million pledged so far despite some online criticism that foreign companies haven’t dug deeply enough into their wallets yet), have reached $3 billion. Much more will be needed.