Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has vowed tight supervision over the management of pension funds as the country steps up the implementation of two new pension programs for urban and rural residents.
"The supervision and management of funds for the country's pension programs must be strengthened. Misappropriations are strictly forbidden," Wen said on Monday at a meeting related to the implementation of the trial programs. One program will cover unemployed urban residents, while the other will cover rural residents.
The two pension programs, along with basic pension insurance for urban employees, will form China's basic pension framework.
The pension program for urban residents is set to be launched on July 1. The program 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.
Wen noted that the two programs are part of the government's efforts to narrow the gap between urban and rural areas and create a pension system that everyone can benefit from.
"Most unemployed urbanites and rural residents have low or unstable incomes, and some have no income at all. They can hardly take care of themselves with their own earnings," Wen said.
According to Wen, people who have difficulties in contributing to the pension program will be aided by the government to ensure their participation in the programs.
"This is the government's unshirkable responsibility," Wen said.
Official figures show that 190 million people across the country have participated in the pension program for rural residents as of the end of May, and 51.7 million senior rural residents over the age of 60 have already started to receive pension payments.
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.
According to Wen, local governments are encouraged to raise basic monthly standards in accordance with local conditions.
In addition, Wen encouraged individuals and families to play their own roles in taking care of the elderly by buying commercial pension insurance and providing emotional support.
Also at Monday's meeting, Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang urged local governments to make careful arrangements for the implementation of several other pension programs and strengthen the promotion of the programs among the country's citizens.
China's ageing population now includes 178 million people over the age of 60. The figure is expected to surpass 200 million before 2015.