The Chinese Ministry of Finance said Wednesday it had earmarked 20 billion yuan (2.9 billion U.S. dollars) from the 2009 central budget for reconstruction in regions devastated by the May 12 earthquake in southwest China.
The fund was allocated to quake regions on top of the 70 billion yuan, which the central government promised for this year.
The 20-billion-yuan fund had been transferred in advance to the provinces of Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi to support reconstruction in the fourth quarter and also for the first quarter of next year, the ministry said.
The new money was also meant to speed up construction of housing projects, hospitals, schools and other reconstruction projects, it said.
The hardest hit Sichuan Province would receive 17 billion yuan, while Gansu would get 2 billion yuan and Shaanxi 1 billion yuan, according to the ministry.
In the meantime, another 13.3 billion yuan from the 2008 budget was handed over to these provinces, with 11.3 billion yuan to Sichuan, 1.27 billion yuan to Gansu and 740 million yuan to Shaanxi.
The latest release from this year's budget had brought the central government's reconstruction fund to a total 63.35 billion yuan so far this year, the ministry said.
(Xinhua News Agency November 26, 2008)