Zhu Rongji on Pilot Social Security Program

Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji on Friday called on northeast China's Liaoning Province to set up a comprehensive social security system that covers all current employees and retirees of state-owned firms.

The success of the pilot program will help China establish a nationwide social security system, the premier said during a two-day inspection tour of the province.

Liaoning is China's rust belt, where unemployment remains a serious problem as money-losing or inefficient, outdated state-owned enterprises dominating the local economy are struggling to upgrade themselves.

The Chinese government selected the province as testing ground for the country's planned social security system, and the experiment was launched last July in the province.

In a discussion Thursday in Shenyang, leading officials of Shenyang, Dalian and 12 other cities in the province told the premier they are determined to push forward the pilot program as scheduled.

The premier urged the province to ensure that monthly basic living allowances for laid-off employees of state-owned firms and the basic pension for retired employees should be paid on time and in full.

He described this as the key part of the national social security work and the most important task for the government right now.

Every enterprise should take part in the social security program and pay their due contribution to the program on time and in full, and those enterprises which fail to do so will face punishment, Zhu emphasized.

Efforts should be made to replace basic allowances for workers laid off by state-owned enterprises with unemployment insurance benefits, an important step for setting up a social security system that is independent of enterprises and institutions, he said.

The premier also called on local governments to make sure all those urban residents living under the poverty line should receive living allowances so as to reach the minimum standard of living for urban residents, as required by law.

Zhu also said local governments should do all they can to create jobs for laid-off workers.

(People's Daily November 16, 2001)

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