Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has vowed to accelerate the implementation of two trial pension programs for urban and rural residents in order to achieve full coverage before 2013.
Wen made the remarks Monday at a meeting related to the implementation of the trial programs. One program will cover urban residents, while the other will cover rural residents.
The pension program for urban residents is set to be launched from July 1, and will be implemented in 60 percent of China's cities and townships by the end of this year before being introduced nationwide next year.
The pension program for rural residents was implemented on a trial basis in 2009, but has yet to be fully implemented.
Under both programs, insured residents can receive a monthly pension of at least 55 yuan (8.46 U.S. dollars). These same residents can receive more pension payments, drawn from their tax contributions, when they reach 60 years of age.
Hailing the two programs as "a groundbreaking step" for the Chinese government as it strives to achieve full insurance coverage for all citizens, Wen said "the Chinese people's wish for better care for elderly people will finally come true in the foreseeable future."
According to Wen, the two programs, whose beneficiaries are mostly low-income groups, will help to narrow the income gap, promote social justice and aid in the country's ongoing urbanization process.
"The important thing for now is to ensure full coverage. After that is achieved, we can continue to improve these programs and raise insurance standards in line with the country's social and economic development," Wen said.
Wen urged local governments to use financial subsidies to attract more people to the programs.
"Expenditures for these programs must be ensured, even at the cost of other projects," Wen said.
Wen also called for more research on the coordinated implementation of other pension programs in order to ensure that public resources are more efficiently used.