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Farmers: forced loan unpaid by county

A COUNTY government that forcibly borrowed more than 13 million yuan (US$1.90 million) in loans from local residents has still not repaid them 14 years later.

In 1995 the government of Lanxi County, Heilongjiang's Suihua City, collected 13.23 million yuan from 470,000 local residents, mostly farmers, to build a road. The county, listed as one of the province's 10 poorest counties, was short of funds, 64-year-old retired bank clerk Dong Zhanlin told yesterday's China Youth Daily.

The county government confirmed the loan.

A 2005 report by the county's transport bureau said the county government needed 26.72 million yuan to build the 22-kilometer Lanzhao Road, a section of Suizhao Road from Lanxi to Zhaodong, in 1995.

The provincial government shouldered 10 million yuan of the cost. The county government had to raise the rest. The local government borrowed 13.23 million yuan from residents, including 9.36 million yuan from farmers.

When it collected the loans in April 1995, the Lanxi government promised to return the money three years after the road was completed in 1996. It said it would use the profit from road tolls to repay the loans, Dong said.

Residents told China Youth Daily they had been forced to lend the loans to the government. Dong said he had 200 yuan deducted from his salary and had to pay another 130 yuan for his rural family.

Many rural families were forced to borrow money at high interest rates, Dong said. About 80 percent of the 4,500 rural families in the Changjiang area, had to borrow money at a monthly rate of 4 percent, Dong said.


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