Enterprise "integrity" is one of the topics that has become media frenzy in recent days, echoing the heated discussions at the NPC and CPPCC annual sessions.
Other topics that claim focus of motions and proposals include social security system, increasing the income of peasants and shifting of government functions.
All these are problems in the deep layers of the economy left over from the planned economy. With the deepening of reform and the initial establishment of the framework of market economy, these problems are beginning to surface, awaiting for urgent solution. Otherwise, it is hard to bring the market economy into depth and China's accession to the WTO has made it even more pressing.
The Chinese government is well aware of these problems, which are posing fresh difficulties and stern challenges just as Premier Zhu Rongji admitted in his government work report to the on-going Session of the Ninth NPC.
In the past, the commercial banks used to be the "purses" of the central finance and "ATMs" of state-owned enterprises and an enterprise had no qualms of conscience at all to owe money to banks, said Xie Qingjiang from Jiangsu. That resulted in the huge amount of non-performing or bad accounts and that shows that Chinese enterprises have a weak sense of integrity.
Last year, nearly 400 enterprises in Jiangsu Province were exposed for their malicious escape from financial debts and some of them were put on the dock.
Some regions are notorious for their bad integrity as a whole and therefore sanctioned by the joint action taken by banks.
Similar efforts are being made in Guangdong, Hubei and Anhui, with gratifying achievements.
With the reform of the operational mechanism and large numbers of small enterprises shut down and large state enterprises shedding their redundancies, more and more workers are losing their jobs. The registered unemployment by the end of last year came to 6.81 million and the unemployment rate is expected to reach 4.5 percent this year.
China is taking various measures to speed up the building of a social security system to guarantee the minimum cost of living for the jobless, low-income residents and retirees. Finance Minister Xiang Huaicheng said that a total of 86 billion yuan (US$10.3 billion) will be allocated from the central finance as social security expenditure this year, a rise of 28 percent. But the amount is too small to make up for the shortfalls.
Many NPC deputies and CPPCC members are of the view that the fundamental solutions to these problems must have the protection by laws, such as anti-monopoly law and laws on social integrity, insurance, protection of disadvantaged groups and laborers.
It is gratifying that China is well on its way in this direction.
(Xinhua News Agency March 14, 2002)