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Social security fund assets top US$70b
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China's social security fund (SSF) has seen its assets increase sevenfold in the last six years to exceed 70 billion U.S. dollars by the end of 2007.

The assets of the fund, which has been governed by a national council since 2000, were less than 10 billion U.S. dollars at the end of 2001, Council Chairman Dai Xianglong said at the 2008 Pension Fund International Seminar held on Thursday in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province.

"The management of the fund has been improved substantially for the past eight years and return on investment has been relatively good under proper risk control," said Dai, adding that the annual investment yields on average were more than 11 percent.

The assets mainly came from cash injections from government and capital and equity assets acquired from offloading state-owned shares.

However, the fund is still far from needed. Wang Zongmin, vice-chairman of the council, said in 2006 that the fund assets had to reach 2 trillion yuan (282 billion U.S. dollars) so that its proceeds could patch up the gap of pension funds in the same year.

The SSF began to invest overseas in late 2006 for more investment channels and lower risks. Its yield scored 29 percent in 2006.

Under the interim regulations, overseas investment should account for no more than 20 percent of the total managed by the council.

Yao Gang, vice-chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), told the seminar the CSRC would continue to raise the proportion of the social security and insurance funds that can be invested in the equity markets.

A report issued by the securities regulator in January noted that, by the end of 2007, the social security fund only invests 0.81 percent of the total mainland market.

"Institutional investors like insurers, social security funds and corporate annuity saw insufficient investment in the stock market. Compared with developed markets, China's Pension system still lags behind," said the report.

(Xinhua News Agency February 29, 2008)

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