NPC & CPPCC > China Daily Exclusive

Citizens have their say on new social security system

By Cui Xiaohuo (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-02-26 16:33

More extensive, less costly and fewer restrictions --  these are the calls from the public for the draft law on social insurance, which is expected to revamp China's social welfare system.

Related readings:
 Govt pledges to spend more on social security
 Should security fund buy locked shares?
 Social security crucial to higher consumption

Nearly 70,000 comments and proposals have filled up the website of the National People's Congress (NPC), the nation's top legislature, during a two-month public hearing for the hotly debated issue that ended on Feb 15.

With the financial crisis continuing to take its toll on the job market, considerations of the law have grown more immediate for laid-off workers and unemployed college graduates, many reviewers wrote on the NPC website.

"I'm really concerned with this law," said Li Hongbin, an unemployed worker from Shandong province. "After reading the draft, I'm not convinced the current draft can protect vulnerable groups including laid-off workers."

"I hope the law can be more extensive, especially in terms of people vulnerable to the slowdown," wrote Wang Dapeng, a college student from Liaoning province, who said without a social security fund, his family cannot afford the medical cost of 7,000 yuan ($1,025) per month for his uremia disease.

The draft law, which the top legislature reviewed for the second time last December, is expected to bridge the policy gap in social welfare between social groups and regions.

China has established several policies concerning social welfare since 1984, and built a network of nearly 700 million social insurance personal accounts, government statistics show.

But various regulations sometimes overlap and affect social insurance on the whole, which leaves the government unable to cover all citizens.

Moreover, a series of social insurance fund embezzlement scandals have been exposed in China since 1998, in which more than 16 billion yuan was embezzled.

Shanghai's ex-Party chief Chen Liangyu was removed from his post and sentenced to 18 years in prison after being linked to a scandal regarding a social insurance fund involving 3.7 billion yuan.

With the new and comprehensive law, China aims to regulate its social security system and safeguard the safety of the funds.

The draft said the country will first launch a social security number system nationwide by using the current citizen identification card number.

It also said if the security fund was embezzled, the social security administration departments, financial departments and audit offices should recover the embezzled funds.

The draft law will be reviewed by the legislature for its third, perhaps last time before passing later this year.

(Originally published on Feb 17, 2009)

An editorial of the People's Daily has called on China's top political advisory body to made due contributions to help the country weather through difficulties.