At a press conference held yesterday in Beijing, Deputy Minister of Civil Affairs Zhan Chengfu publicly addressed some of the concerns regarding the confused and unsatisfactory deployment of donated material and funds during the early days of the COVID-2019 epidemic in Wuhan.
During the press conference for the joint prevention and control mechanism of the State Council, the Deputy Minister was posed the following question by a Yicai (第一财经) reporter: “During the COVID-2019 epidemic, the topic of social charitable donations has received everyone’s attention. During this time, some problems came up which caught everyone’s attention, for instance that it was difficult to donate, and the issues with the allocation of the donations. I would like to know, what view do the Civil Affairs departments take on the problems that came up in the field of charitable donations during this time? Are there any solutions which can allow these work mechanisms to be more in line with everyone’s needs in the future? Thank you.”
The Deputy minister’s answer can be summarized as follows: “first of all, as of 24:00 on March 8, charity organizations and the Red Cross had received 29.29 billion yuan of donations from society, and about 522 million items of material donations. Charity organizations and the Red Cross have allocated a total of about 23.978 billion yuan and 466 million items of material donations.
Secondly, charitable organizations have done a lot of work, interconnected and interacted with the administrative forces of the party and the government, and jointly formed a powerful driving force to fight the epidemic.
Thirdly, the operational capabilities of charitable organizations need to be improved, especially when it comes to the initial concerns regarding the slow distribution of donations, the imprecise allocation of donated materials, and the information disclosure not being timely, comprehensive, and transparent. The law has rules regarding these situations, but there is still a long way to go before the regulations of the law can be turned into the conscious actions of charitable organizations.
Fourthly, the practice of prevention and control for this outbreak shows that the government’s ability to monitor charity needs to be improved. After the incident, as a charity supervision agency, the Ministry of Civil Affairs acted in a timely manner, dispatched working groups, formulated relevant documents, issued notifications to charitable organizations, including the Red Cross, accepted social supervision, and quickly improved the relevant processes, reversing some problems that occurred some time ago.”
The Deputy Minister concluded by saying that “from today, we need to summarize our experiences from this epidemic, improve the government’s ability to manage charity to respond to large public health incidents and natural disasters. This has been a great lesson, and we need to answer it together.”