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Government Urged to Strengthen Social Security Framework
In an exclusive interview with China.org.cn, deputy Zheng Gongcheng, who is attending the First Session of the 10th National People’s Congress, the top legislative body in China, said that the government should speed up the strengthening of the social security system in order to solve the capital shortage for the under privileged.

Zheng Gongcheng, a deputy from the Heilongjiang Delegation and professor of Renmin University of China, has been doing research on social security since 1985 and is therefore very familiar with the development of China’s social security system.

In the past 17 years, Zheng has witnessed “remarkable” achievements in the field. “Especially, the reform of social security system achieved through Zhu Rongji’s administration in the past five years,” he told China.org.cn.

Zheng said that China had primarily established a social security framework including endowment insurance, unemployment insurance, medi-care and social welfare. “About 140 million Chinese now have endowment insurance, 80 billion Chinese buy medi-care, and over 100 billion have unemployment insurance,” he said.

As for social welfare, the Compulsory Education Law ensures that more children continue their studies, accordingly improving their educational level. In rural areas, the number of poor has continuously dropped through large-scale poverty-relieving projects. In the cities, the minimum living standard has secured the basic lives of more than 27 million people made redundant from State Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

“Social security has been the top concern of the Chinese in recent years, but surveys show that 75 percent of Chinese feel satisfied with the reform,” he said.

However, Zheng also warned that it was still a hard task to accomplish an overall social security system for such a huge country like China, in the short term, considering the huge difference between east and west regions; rural and urban.

He hoped that China can set up a system that can make every needy person able to get help from government in time, no matter where he or she is from; developed areas or backward areas; rural or cities.

“It’s time that government should speed up the improvement of social security systems instead of exploring efficient measures slowly.” He urged that government do so immediately to solve problems such as outstanding payments and capital shortage of enterprises.

Currently, enterprises are responsible to hand in funds for an employee, which has greatly added to their burdens. Therefore, Zheng urged the government to explore more channels to raise social security funds.

Zheng planned to submit several bills concerning social security to the First Session of the 10th National People’s Congress, the top legislative body in China. One of them is that the government should raise more funds for social security system through selling state assets.

“These senior employees in state-owned enterprises have contributed to China’s total state assets of over 10 trillion yuan -- so they should get rewards,” Zheng explained.

The incremental fiscal revenue in both central and local government should also contribute to social security construction, he suggested.

(China.org.cn by Staff Reporter Tang Fuchun, March 12, 2003)

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