SOEs Lifted out of Difficulty

China's measures in the past three years to lift state-owned-enterprises (SOEs) out of difficulty have now borne fruit, minister of the State Economic and Trade Commission Li Rongrong said Saturday in Beijing.

So far, the country's aim in pushing ahead SOE reforms and relieving them from head-aches has been achieved on the whole, he told a press conference organized by the ongoing National People's Congress (NPC) session.

To create a better external environment for SOEs' development in the past three years, he said, the country has taken up the following measures:

--Cabinet commissions and ministries were reduced from 40 to 29 while government staffs cut by half;

--About 130 enterprises with 4 million employees separated themselves from government interference;

--As many as 168 ministry-run higher education institutions with 130 thousand students and teaching staff were transferred to local management;

--Coal and nonferrous materials companies received full management and operation rights, with full power deciding on their own businesses and internal management.

The minister was speaking at a news conference organized by the annual NPC legislative session, which started March 5 and lasts for eleven days.

Li said the SOEs' internal reform left 21 million laid-off workers over the past three years. However, more than 13 million of them found other jobs, 1 million got earlier retirement while 7 million others are still waiting for new work, he said.

He noted that these laid-off workers caused no social disturbance since more and more people changed their conception on "unemployment", who now accept new ideas that every SOE may go bankrupt while every worker should have no "iron bowls".

He said he was extremely happy with people's changing employment ideas.

The new idea has encouraged the laid-offs to actively search for re-employment instead for waiting for government settlement, Li said.

(China Daily 03/10/2001)