China has decided to raise the retirement age, although a timetable is yet to come out.
Senior government officials have made it clear that the reform is set to be launched to fill the pension repayment gap.
According to scholarly estimates, the gap could be more than 2 trillion yuan ($328 billion). AsChinabecomes increasingly aging — in 2012, the size ofChina’s working population, or those from 15 to 59 years old, dropped for the first time by 3.45 million from a year earlier — the problem would only worsen.
If the retirement age were extended by one year, the gap can be reduced by 20 billion yuan, experts estimate, thus prompting policymakers to consider the adoption of the extension policy.
Relevant discussions started in 2004 and intensified since last year. Those who support the new policy said it is a must; otherwiseChina’s pension repayment system would become bankrupt. Opponents said it would only bring about new problems; for example, they argued, those experienced elderly workers would grab the opportunities that would otherwise be available for young workers.
Experts also said that the State can use the profits of State-owned enterprises to help fill the gap. Other options include allowing the State pension fund to invest in the profitable State enterprises to have access to stable returns.
Moreover, the proposed new policy has also aroused anger among some people as currently, government officials and public servants do not need to pay for the pension scheme, but their post-retirement pension benefits are generally much more than ordinary workers. Reform of such an unfair pension system, therefore, should precede retirement age extension policy, they said.
During the Third Plenary Session of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China in December, policymakers decided to study and devise the policy of retirement age extension in a gradualist manner, a sign that the policy is set to be launched in the coming years.
Facing the reactions from the people, China must balance the interests of various parties and devise a policy that has the least repercussions on society.