A record 4.6 billion yuan (US$554.2 million) has been allocated by the Chinese government as a fallback fund for local governments to guarantee the basic livelihoods of more Chinese.
This is the largest input from state revenue since the Regulation on Guaranteeing Urban Residents' Basic Livelihoods was enacted in 1999. About 44 percent of the country's total projected expenditure in 2002 will go to the construction of a bottom-line security system.
Dubbed the country's "Most Basic Security Network", the system is targeted at urban households whose per capita monthly income falls below the official bottom-line, which varies in different regions and averages 152 yuan (US$18.3 ).
Of the nearly 20 million Chinese qualified to receive livelihood guarantees, some 13 million have benefited, most of whom are laid-off workers, retirees and their family members.
Between January 2001 and January 2002, some 5.2 billion yuan (US$626.5 million) was spent by both central and local financing, up 76 percent year-on-year.
The yearly input of central government from 1999 to 2001 was 400 million yuan (US$48.2 million), 800 million yuan (US$96.4 million) and 2.3 billion yuan (US$277 million) respectively.
To date, all qualifying needy in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Chongqing have been covered by the system.
Economically well-off provinces like Guangdong and Zhejiang have established integrated bottom-line security system for both urbanites and rural dwellers.
Achievements have been made in other regions where pilot basic livelihood guarantee programs for farmers are being operated.
To date, a total of 3.438 million farmers have become beneficiaries of these programs.
To further expand the coverage of basic livelihood guarantees, Chinese governments at various levels have started special finance accounts to secure the supply of the fund.
Rules for both application for governmental subsidies and auditing have been established and procedures on the distribution of the fund widely standardized.
An information management system aiming to link all administrative regions above city levels will also be in use by the end of June. By that time, the operation costs of civil affair departments will be drastically reduced.
Given that most of the Chinese to be re-employed are those aged over 35, modestly educated and single-skilled, China is faced within increasing re-employment problem and a heavier burden on the implementation of the bottom-line security system.
To alleviate the pressure, all local governments and departments of labor and social affairs have taken it as a top priority to cultivate new business growth sectors and explore more job opportunities.
After its pilot program in Shanghai in 1993, the bottom-line security system for urban dwellers was widely spread in China in 1997.
(People's Daily May 29, 2002)