China should start addressing irregularities in income distribution by making civil servants' salaries transparent, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee said yesterday.
Wang Jianlun, who served as a key figure in a CPPCC task force for research into China's income discrepancies, said government officials' extra benefits should be included into their salaries to standardize the remuneration system for civil servants.
By doing so, the government would serve as a model for the standardization of income systems in the whole society, which is a prerequisite for addressing the country's widening wealth gap, said Wang a former vice-minister of labor during a press conference yesterday hosted by the fourth session of the 10th National Committee of the CPPCC.
Remuneration systems for China's government organs are very complicated. Officials' incomes are a mixture of salaries based on their rankings in the hierarchy and many subsidized services and welfare, which range from medical care to a free car.
State companies and State-funded institutions which range from hospitals to media organizations have an even more complex income system because employees' salaries have a similar structure to government officials but also include bonuses based on personal performance and the performance of the organization.
The intricate salary systems for government departments and State-funded institutions make it almost impossible to know exactly how much their employees are paid. As a consequence, it is difficult for tax men to collect income tax a key instrument in narrowing the wealth gap from officials and those working in State-funded organizations.
Wang said her task force also advised the government to take necessary steps to guarantee a government-set minimum income for low-income earners while using effective tools to "adjust" the incomes of high earners.
"But that does not mean the country should limit high incomes," she said, adding that "it is a good thing to be rich."
(China Daily March 9, 2006)