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FILE PHOTO - A garbage collector rummages through trash cans to find recyclable garbage at a residential area for migrant workers in Beijing May 7, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

(reuters_tickers)

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese authorities have recouped 730 million yuan (£83 million) in misappropriated funds as part of an investigation into the country's national poverty-reduction scheme, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

Nearly 450 people have been charged for offences relating to the misused funds in an inspection of 28 provinces, said Xinhua, citing the Ministry of Finance and the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development.

The report gave no details on how the funds were misused.

China's government has pledged to wipe out poverty by 2020, targeting 70 million people living below the poverty line, but researchers and social workers say a lasting solution will take much longer.

China has spent 196.1 billion yuan on poverty relief over the past four years, said Xinhua.

Earlier this month, Hu Zejun, the head of the National Audit Office, said that the country has punished a total of 970 people for misusing the funds under the same programme. It was not clear whether that number included the 450 people charged for offences.

Hu said 101,800 people had been removed from the government list of registered poor while another 95,000 were added.

Beijing committed 86 billion yuan to poverty alleviation in 2017 under the national programme, most of which is used for infrastructure projects, as well as subsidies for education and health care.

(Editing by Kim Coghill)

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Reuters