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Deputies Call on Government to Step Up Social Security

People's deputies have called on the government to step up social security for the poor in Beijing.

The 22 local legislators called on the government at the ongoing third session of the 12th Beijing Municipal People's Congress Monday, urging it to improve conditions for poverty-stricken retired workers, farmers and farmer-turned workers.

"Retired workers at previous community-owned factories, some 150,000 in Beijing, received less than 400 yuan (US$48) a month in pensions," said Fei Wenyong, a congress deputy.

"Their retirement pay was lower than the minimum living guarantee in Beijing - which is 510 yuan (US$60),

"Retired people who began working in the 1950s and 1960s did not even get medical insurance."

They were not involved in any kind of social security system, as opposed to workers in State-owned factories, Fei said.

He urged the local government to adopt measures to try and improve the welfare of retired workers living in poverty.

"The payment gap between retired workers and retired government staff should not be so wide," said deputy Wang Junjie.

Wang, a trustee of the State-owned China National Cereals, Oils & Foodstuffs Corporation, said the pensions of the retired government personnel were nearly twice those of State-owned enterprise retired workers on the same level.

Where senior engineers retired from State-owned enterprises were paid 1,500 yuan (US$180) a month, former senior engineers in government were paid some 3,000 yuan (US$360).

Farmers and farmer-turned workers were also put under the spotlight by congress deputies for "being neglected by the current social security system."

"I have worked for a rural enterprise for more than 20 years. My employees were excluded from the endowment insurance system. How can they afford their living once they are retired?" said deputy Guo Limin, chairman of a rural company in northern Beijing's Changping District.

"The condition of farmers whose land was called back by government is even worse," deputy Tian Jianguo said Monday.

"Farmers are paid in one lump sum for the land. But when the money is used up, they will have no way to make a living," he said.

Tian advised the local government to train those farmers who lost their land for future employment.

Executive Vice-Mayor of Beijing Zhai Hongxiang said: "The municipal government will make efforts to join hands with relevant government departments to solve the problems."

(China Daily January 25, 2005)

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