Business / Markets

Pension fund poised for riskier investment

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-07-25 10:27

BEIJING - China will allow its pension fund to tap into riskier asset investments once top policymakers approve the plan, a senior official said on Friday.

The draft plan, supported by a majority of the public, would allow the country's basic pension fund to be invested in new channels, including domestic stock markets, but cap the maximum proportion of investment in stocks and equities at 30 percent of the fund's total net assets.

Some 61 percent of over 1,000 members of the public that gave their feedback supported such investments, while nearly one third of respondents said the fund should not be invested in risky and volatile assets, Li Zhong, spokesman for the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, told a press conference.

After revisions, the draft will be submitted to the State Council, or the cabinet, for a final decision, Li said.

Absolute safety must be guaranteed in pension fund investments, he said, so the government will entrust professional institutions to handle the investments and let them determine the timing and preliminary volume of investment once the plan is approved.

Money placed in the basic pension fund, initiated in the early 1990s, accounts for roughly 90 percent of China's total social security fund pool. Fund investments to date have been limited to safe but low-yielding bank deposits and government bonds.

Yet pressure to improve the investment returns has been rising because of the country's aging population and a funding shortfall.

According to Li, the basic pension fund has assets of around 2 trillion yuan ($326.8 billion) that could be invested, meaning up to 600 billion yuan could theoretically go into the stock markets when the draft plan comes into effect.

The announcement followed a rout in China's stock markets from mid-June, when authorities' crackdown on margin financing, in addition to frothy market conditions, triggered a massive sell-off that at its worst knocked more than 30 percent of the key Shanghai index from its June peak.

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