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Lawmakers press for fair, efficient social security network

2014-12-25 08:36 Xinhua Web Editor: Gu Liping

China's lawmakers demanded an efficient, unified national social security network at the legislative session Wednesday.

At a panel discussion on a State Council report on social security at the ongoing bi-monthly session, the National People's Congress (NPC) standing committee members urged the government to speed up unification of all programs.

Currently, China has different social security programs for rural residents, urban residents who do not work for certain employers, and employed urban residents. Civil servants and staff of some public institutions are not included in social security programs but come under old state policies. The costs and benefits vary widely among different programs.

"Basic social security should not differentiate between citizens," said Wu Xiaoling, a standing committee member.

Taking pensions as an example, Wu suggested a standard national program for every citizen with different employers offering extra annuities and citizens able to turn to commercial insurance programs.

Social security program varies in different regions and there is a huge gap between rich eastern regions and less developed western ones.

"We can set an average level, maybe the middle-lower one, and different regions can adjust according to local financial situations by a certain degree. The central government should relocate funds from rich regions to poor ones to balance revenue," she said.

Deng Xiuxin, another committee member, agreed with Wu on unifying social security programs and stressed reforming the pension program for staff in government, Party bodies, and public institutions.

Most college teachers, under the old pension scheme, do not deposit in pension accounts like those covered by social security programs and instead receive a monthly salary from the university even after they retire. Including them in social security schemes will free the university from handling retirement affairs and save on human resources, said Deng, president of Huazhong Agricultural University.

When delivering the report, Vice Premier Ma Kai said the government will include civil servants and public institution staff in social security programs to break the dual system.

Lawmaker Wang Naikun called for more preferential policies for disabled people while praising the improvement of social security benefits for them.

The pension program should reduce the eligible age for receiving a pension from the program for people with serious disabilities, said Wang, vice chairperson of the China Disabled Persons' Federation.

People with serious disabilities normally have shorter lifespans than average and many do not live long enough to receive a pension, she said.

Lawmakers also suggested that social security programs invest better to stop funds from depreciating.

According to the State Council report, as of the end of November, 837 million people had joined the pension programs and more than 95 percent of Chinese citizens, over 1.3 billion people, are covered by some kind of basic healthcare program.

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