Friday, October 29, 2010

Billionaire gets subsidy

BEIJING - INTERNET mogul Ma Huateng is number nine on Forbes magazine's list of the richest people in China, with a fortune of US$4.4 billion (S$5.7 billion). But he gets US$450 a month in official housing subsidies.

Mr Ma, 39, is the chairman of Hong Kong-listed Chinese web portal Tencent and has been deemed a 'local leading talent' by the government in the southern boomtown of Shenzhen on the border with Hong Kong, where the company is based.

The title gives him the right to 3,100 yuan (S$603) a month in housing subsidies over a five-year period as an incentive to buy or rent a flat in the city, according to the state-run Global Times, citing the city government.

'The housing-subsidy policy aims to attract talents to Shenzhen and make them stay,' an official with Shenzhen's bureau of Human Resources and Social Security, identified by his surname Liu, told the newspaper. 'The city has lost its competitive edge to other cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.' More than 2,900 people believed to have contributed to the coastal city's boom had benefited from the programme by early this year, one-third of them businessmen, the report said.

The South China Morning Post said many senior corporate officials were on the list.

The news has triggered uproar among the public, particularly the online community, amid soaring property prices and rising concerns over the country's widening income gap. -- AFP

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