One hundred million Chinese peasants will receive the Golden Grain Benevolence Peasant Card 金穗惠农卡 by 2010 so that they can receive directly receive subsidies from the Chinese central government.
There is always lots of leakage in government subsidies to the peasants as funds are diverted for this or that local project that could make an official look good. Peasant debit cards can help reduce diversion of funds and that seems to be one of the main reasons why the cards are being distributed.
In many places I have gone in my travels this year I have seen efforts to increase openness apparently as a way to make official corruption more difficult. Other things I have been seeing in my travels this year, like the posting of the names of welfare (minimum income supplement) recipients in Deqin, Yunnan on a bulletin board notice from the Deqin County, Yunnan Worker’s Union — “Names of Workers Receiving Assistance” (above) and the listing in the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture party newspaper the Diqing Ribao, the license plates of all the buses, taxis and trucks in Deqin County that are getting a fuel subsidy, and even the listing of all patients who got health insurance payments at a hospital outside Ruili, Yunnan including operation, medical problem, name and national ID card number, are part of this. In the U.S., we would this as a big invasion of privacy, but in China this is an anti-corruption measure. Transparency as an anti-corruption strategy, apparently.
A Golden Grain Benevolence Card reference appeared in an article about Lijiang Vice Mayor Wang Zhi 王志 and his sense of humor. When Wang Zhi was giving a talk later, he was asked about China’s san nong 三农 (peasants, farmland, agriculture) policy how to help the farmers, he said “Give’em all credit/debit cards and send ‘em cash.” He added, “I don’t think the peasants can use this card. I myself am afraid of using it. I worry that I’ll lose all my money if I go online with this card!!!” (“这功能我想农民朋友都不会用，我也不敢用，我怕在网上把钱丢了。)
In April 2008, Xiang Junbo, the director of the China Agricultural Bank said that according to the national plan of the Bank, it will gradually expand use of the the Golden Grain Benevolence Peasant Card. One hundred million peasant household will directly benefit from it by 2010. 中国农业银行行长项俊波说，农行将在全国有计划、有步骤地推广金穗惠农卡，到２０１０年全国将有１亿多农户直接受益。