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A new law is needed
(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-03-12 07:18

After the Shanghai pension fund scandal earlier this year, national policy advisors desperately need to take action to assure the nation that public funds are safe.

Li Weixiong, vice-chairman of the Subcommittee of Population, Resources and Environment of the CPPCC National Committee, told reporters on Saturday that the government will create a sound system to guarantee the security of pension funds.

The Shanghai scandal and some other public fund crimes have served as a stark reminder of the necessity of tackling loopholes in the management of such funds.

Tackling these issues is more important than pooling pension funds, which the government seems to have put more emphasis on so far.

Premier Wen Jiabao, in his report on government work delivered last Monday at the ongoing National People's Congress (NPC) session, vowed to strengthen the management of pension funds.

The government's stance has been clear and consistent, but only when a really effective measure is put in place will public confidence in the funds improve.

Policymakers are yet to reach a consensus as to how to tackle the problem of loose supervision, and restore public confidence.

A law governing pension funds and other public funds is what is needed most as some NPC deputies and CPPCC members have suggested, the lack of a specific law is the funds' fatal flaw.

The law should define how the pension funds are to be pooled, ensuring both public and corporate funds are invested in a safe way.

More importantly, the law must clearly define the legal responsibilities of fund managers and how and to what an extent the managing institutions should open up their management to public supervision.

Especially, as the Shanghai scandal has warned, the law should strictly define how funds can be invested, preventing misuse of the money.

As past public fund-related crimes have shown, the blurred process of management and investment of funds prevent the public understanding how they work, which produces the perfect environment for corruption.

In essence, a law that can guarantee effective supervision by multiple sources, including both internal checks and public supervision, would curb abuse of public funds.

(China Daily 03/12/2007 page4)