Monday, November 29, 1999

China auctions sidewalks to street vendors

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Beijing, May 17 (IANS) Street shops in China will be legalised soon with the government launching an auction of sidewalks to vendors, a move that many say was brought about due to hygiene concerns.Instead of chasing away unlicensed street vendors off the sidewalks, urban law enforcement officials from China's Jiangxi province are auctioning off public space for successful bidders to operate their booths legally.Urban law enforcement officials - locally known as 'chengguan' - said the auction system is intended to help disadvantaged people, but this move has led vendors to complain that it is 'unfair' to make them to pay money, Global Times said Saturday citing a report in the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China.At least 100 street booths are being auctioned, the report said, adding that the base price for a booth ranges from 700 yuan ($102) to 1,100 yuan ($161).Successful bidders are, however, allowed to operate their booths for a period of one year only.The bureau has collected a sum of 139,390 yuan ($20,410) from the auction.Yao Xilin, a street vendor, used to pay only 2,000 yuan ($292) a year to cover the cost of garbage pick-up and street cleaning. Under the auction system, he will have to pay 16,000 yuan ($2,341) to operate his booth.'I don't really understand why the administration is organising auctions for public roads,' Yao was quoted as saying.Some vendors said chengguan often 'kicked them off the street' for various reasons, including hygiene concerns. With the auction system in place, they will be licensed to operate their business.Meanwhile, the deputy director of the local urban administration bureau, Shu Yiming, said many disadvantaged people, such as laid-off workers, have got rights to set up street booths, and the auction system has ensured that the management of the booths will be fair.

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