China is to redouble its efforts to create more than 8 million new jobs next year to keep its urban unemployment rate at around 4.5 percent, said Minister of Labour and Social Security Zhang Zuoji Wednesday in Shanghai.
However, the unemployment pressure next year will be bigger than this year. Ministry statistics state the country's registered unemployment rate in urban areas in the third quarter of the year was 3.4 percent.
Ministry officials noted the country is to bear "more pressure'' next year due to the "pessimistic" international economic environment, as well as the on-going reform of State-owned enterprises.
Vice-Premier Wu Bangguo Wednesday sent a message to the national meeting on labor and social security, which started Thursday and runs to December 14 in Shanghai, saying the central and local governments need to "explore and create more channels" for employment to ensure the country's social stability.
To achieve the employment goal, the country will encourage the country's service sector and other labour-intensive industries, said Zhang.
According to Zhang, the country's service sector, especially community service jobs -- such as housekeeping and milk delivery -- will become a major source, absorbing those laid-off and unemployed in the country's urban areas.
The State aims to establish 100 employment centers for community service in major cities nationwide next year, according to the ministry.
Furthermore, the country's "vigorous" private enterprises can also be a key channel for creating new jobs, said Zhang.
The ministry also urged the country's re-employment centers to play a bigger role in helping some 10 million unemployed get vocational training by the end of 2003.
Meanwhile, the ministry also stressed paying pensions for retirees on time.
Governments at all levels need to take more care of the poor and to avoid "no more delays of pension delivery'' during the next year, noted Vice-Premier Wu.
To cope with the greater challengers of pension delivery, the State will further introduce foreign and private enterprises to join the social insurance system.
Pension delivery is to be 100 percent realized through a social insurance system by the end of the month, according to the ministry.
The number of retirees around the country is expected to reach 33 million.
The country has delivered a total of 69.2 billion yuan (US$8.4 billion) of pensions to more than 31 million retirees.
The country's medical insurance network, launched in 1998, is also expected to cover all prefectural cities, involving 85 million people.
More efforts are still to be paid to promote medical insurance in rural areas, according to ministry officials.
The country currently has some 150 million rural "surplus" laborers.
(China Daily December 13, 2001)