At the beginning of the establishment of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, people strictly adhered to the principle of “construction comes after production;” and invested limited financial input into industrial and agricultural production. As a result, the Corps’ construction of infrastructure seriously lagged. Most of the farm workers were still living in mud-wood structure bungalows built in the 1950s and 1960s. Not long ago, 243,000 households were sheltered in truly rundown conditions.
Only when people live in peace, can they enjoy their work. The party committee of the Corps introduced housing reform policies that said the Corps and individuals each paid 50 percent of the cost for the reconstruction of old houses or construction of new ones; but the property rights belong to the individual workers. So far, the Corps has reconstructed houses for 63,000 households; and another 300,000 will be finished by the end of the year. The Corps plans to spend another 3 to 5 years finishing the entire project. By then, the housing area will reach 24 square meters per capita.
Farms and ranges are key sectors of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. Earlier this year, the Corps signed long-term contracts with farm workers. The contract terms range from 30 to 50 years. Farm workers have been given more operation and decision rights. They can make individual decisions on plant selection and sales. At the same time, every worker can have 1.5-2.5 mu of individual land, on which they can develop individual courtyard businesses. Farms and companies have made great efforts to change their function, focusing on the establishment of a social services system and providing an all-in-one service package.
Workers will only get rich after their burden is reduced. Beginning from last year, the Corps streamlined the structure and abolished unreasonable fees for more than 80 projects. It also developed precision agriculture and reduced the cost of agricultural materialized processing. In 2000 it increased the income for every worker by 1,343 yuan, by reducing their burden. The average annual income of an on-post worker reached 6,758 yuan per person – up 24%. This year, the Corps identified the target for economic development growth rate to be between 9% and 10%; and implemented burden reduction measures to raise the income of every worker to 7,600 yuan.
In the five years to come, the Corps will invest about four billion yuan to improve the infrastructure and basic living conditions on 58 farms along the border. Last year the Corps selected five pilot farms. This year, another 10 were added to the list of high standard planning and construction projects. Corps Commander Zhang Qingli said that the implementation of policies and measures to help local people gain wealth not only persuaded more professionals to stay, but also built a solid foundation for the Corps to better fulfill its historic mission of opening up uncultivated land and defending the border.