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Trying to collect fees from members of the floating population–Xiaoniufang

May 30, 2013

Beijing Haidian –one village sets up a checkpoint to collect fees and manage the floating population, but are forced to suspend the practice

Source:China Broadcast net


Xiaoniufang village, reporter for Voice of China, Wang Xian, editor Xu Yinjuan

The storm roiled up by the demolishing of Tangjialing have not quite subsided. The media has reported on the village of Xiaoniufang, not far from Tangjialing, which set up a checkpoint, to collect a “maintenance fee” from members of the floating population. The village originally had 1000 residents, but the influx of migrants expanded the population to 20,000. How was the village to manage this difficult problem? Could they compel people to pay this fee without any suitable basis?

At noon the village is bustling with people, most of them not village residents. Everyone had heard that they will now be subject to paying water and sanitation fees.

Reporter, to a passerby: Will you pay these fees?

No, I’m not. Most of us are planning to move instead.

A Mr Wang Xishuo said his whole family lived in the village, For many years they have never had to pay water and sanitation fees. Since his family consists of a number of people, if they had to each pay the fee every month, it would be a considerable amount.

At the village, there is a high metal entrance gate that is obviously newly-built. An electrified barrier pole is also set in place. No one is inside the sentry box, but there is a notice there that states that after 04-03 those without a pass will be prevented from entering. “Please go to the floating population office to obtain a pass.” A person in the village said, the “proof” to obtain the pass was to pay money. Each individual had to pay 15 yuan each month. Since they had not collected the fee before, the first time an individual had to pay an additional 5 yuan, making a total of 20.

Several persons in the village said they could not afford anything like this.

At the village committee office, this reporter got a copy of the “Plan to collect a fee for floating population management,” and spoke with a village cadre.

Cadre: The collecting of fees was suspended [due to media attention and backlash]. After waiting carefully for the right moment, we will again put this in effect. The aim is chiefly to register everyone in the village, and strengthen management.

The majority of members of the floating population have paid nothing up to now, while a comparatively small number of village residents pay 10 or 20 yuan. On the receipt for these payments it says “Maintenance fee.” What is involved in this term,  “maintenance fee?” According to the cadre, it really refers to water and sanitation fees. To relieve the financial burden of managing the floating population, it is also necessary to collect a sum of money.

The cadre: We don’t have enough financial resources. For instance, every day this village produces 10 tons of garbage. If we register everyone and collect some money, we can unify management practices and make a better environment.

The village committee says it has suspended the collection of fees to receive a pass, but in the future “sealed management” may be necessary.

Perhaps because Xiaoniufang village is close to the Shangdi High Technology District, the floating population has increased. It is already beyond the resources of the village committee to count exactly how many are in the village, and to manage the situation.

Haidian district in 2009 issued guidelines on floating population management. “When they arrive, register them; when they leave, cross them out. When they rent, make a record of it; when they give up the room, cancel the record.” In practice, this is not easy to do. Xibeiwang town is in the middle of a comprehensive community management effort. This involves organizing groups in neighborhoods, building an entrance gate, installing video cameras, increasing the amount of patrol staff.

A specialist said, there is no legal basis for forcing members of the floating population to pay fees. According to professor Wang Conghu, of the school of public management, it is important to respect their rights.  The overall goal of social management is to preserve social stability and public order, and if the rights and interests of one segment of society are curtailed, this is in conflict with that goal. It may be necessary to get better information on the comings and goings of the floating population, but to increase the level of control over them is counterproductive.

Wang Conghu urges the village committee to be more flexible. Have the village resident landlords provide the information on  their tenants. That way, the village committee will have a complete record of everyone residing in the village.

Villagers have expressed trepidation about sealing off the village, worried that their tenants are preparing to leave and go someplace else. In all the areas where urban and rural zones are intermixing, with cheap rentals and convenient mass transit, this same problem is occurring, and a solution must be found as soon as possible.

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