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Unemployment insurance fund
(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-12-13 16:29

Using the huge surplus of the unemployment insurance fund can go a long way to easing the impact of the financial crisis on enterprises and workers.

The action by Guangzhou, Guangdong province, to reduce payments from enterprises to this fund by a large margin from next year opens up other ways to derive benefits from it.

Statistics show that the fund amounted to 120 billion yuan ($17.5 billion) nationwide at the end of September this year.

Guangzhou alone has a surplus of 8.5 billion yuan and its annual expenditure from the fund is only about 300 to 500 million yuan. So it is possible for the city's fund to manage without receiving as much as it did before.

In a report to the State Council by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MHRSS) this week, proposals on the reform of the unemployment insurance scheme included innovative ways to use its surplus to stabilize the employment situation.

The fund was set up in the 1990s to provide basic living allowances for unemployed workers for a period of time until they found new employment. There were no stipulations about how the fund could be used to promote employment.

The Guangzhou government's decision to considerably cut payments from enterprises to the fund will substantially ease their burdens, particularly the labor-intensive ones. The money they save from the payments can be used to keep as many workers as possible in their jobs.

In this way, the unemployment insurance fund can play a positive role in safeguarding employment rather than just being used to provide a basic living allowance for laid-off workers.

The MHRSS report also proposed that the fund be used to provide subsidies to enterprises that have long made payments to it, and have adopted measures such as shortening working hours or rotating workers in reduced positions to keep as many as possible employed. The proposal is noteworthy as it can discourage enterprises from laying off employees.

By timely adjusting policies, the government will have another leverage to help enterprises cushion the impact of the unfolding financial crisis.

Of course, in the process of the adjustment, supervision must be carefully maintained to ensure that there is no misappropriation or embezzlement of the fund.

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