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May 25, 2012

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Car plates counted as assets with value

SHANGHAI'S car plate prices have soared so dramatically over the years that they have become valuable family assets in the eyes of the city's government watchdog that determines whether applicants are qualify for the government living allowance.

The Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau yesterday announced new criteria to decide whether a low-income family or resident is qualified to get the monthly government living subsidy. The revised system adds to what should be counted as applicants' personal properties.

Antique collections and stocks should be reported together with savings and stable incomes. Moreover, not only a car but also a car license plate will now be considered part of the applicants' property for evaluating their qualification for the basic living allowance. The allowance for a downtown resident is 505 yuan per month, with 323,600 local residents benefiting last year.

The new rules reflect the harsh reality that a local car plate, a de facto registry permit only to license an automobile, has turned incredibly costly. The monthly car plate auction is a unique Shanghai practice. The city government launched it in 1994 to control the number of private cars on local streets.

The price of a car plate has turned from only hundreds of yuan to about 64,000 yuan (US$10,112) last month.


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