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January 7, 2010

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Guangzhou acts to halt bad habits

THE Guangzhou City government is looking at a novel way of stopping bad habits like spitting, urinating in public, gambling and vandalism among public housing tenants and budget apartment owners.

The city is considering introducing a demerit point system with a list of 29 offenses. An accumulation of 20 demerit points in two years means a person may have his or her rights to subsidized housing disqualified. An individual can reapply for subsidized housing after one to five years, according to a plan proposed by the capital city of Guangdong Province.

The offenses will be worth either three, five, seven or 20 demerit points.

Spitting, urinating in public, littering, and illegally parking mopeds and bicycles are worth three demerit points.

Damaging sewage pipes or gambling are both worth a deduction of five points.

Those caught for vandalism, theft or throwing objects from high-rises would have seven points deducted, according to the document.

Public housing beneficiaries who sublease their public apartment or fail to pay rent for three straight months will have a 20-point deduction and would be excluded from another public housing application for five years.

The Guangzhou government is seeking public opinion over the proposed policy.

According to a survey by the news Web portal, 53 percent of the 3,148 respondents said the introduction of a demerit point system was reasonable. The survey also found that 44 percent of respondents thought that the policy may lead to discrimination.

In Guangzhou, a family qualifies for subsidized housing if: the average monthly income of each member is less than 295 yuan (US$43), the family has at least one disabled person, a single-parent is raising a child younger than 16, an elderly couple has no children, or the average living space per person is less than 5 square meters.

Urban families in Guangzhou are allowed to buy budget apartments if the average annual income for each member is below 18,287 yuan or the average living space per person is less than 10 square meters and the family has never enjoyed preferential housing policies before.


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