China announced that it plans to improve its minimum living subsidy welfare program. Officials said they plan to integrate the system with other social security and re-employment programs as well as add measures to protect against price fluctuations. The minimum living subsidy program was first launched in Shanghai in 1993 to help maintain the living standards of poor urban residents. It consists of a system of distributing fixed assistance funds. Subsidies totaled RMB 15.1 billion (US$1.83bn) in 2003 when the program aided 22.4 million urban residents.
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