Minister of human resources says balance more than 2.3 trillion yuan
A top social security official confirmed on Thursday there is no shortfall in the country's pensions for enterprise retirees, two days after Premier Wen Jiabao vowed to raise such funding by a further 10 percent this year.
"I can assure you responsibly that there is no gap in the pension fund for enterprise retirees. The accumulated balance exceeds 2.3 trillion yuan ($371 billion)," said Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security.
Yin said the national pension fund collected 1.9 trillion yuan in revenue by the end of last year, when expenditures amounted to 1.5 trillion yuan, creating a 400-billion-yuan balance.
"Even if excluding fiscal subsidies and interest earnings, pension turnover totaled 1.6 trillion yuan last year, so there is no pension fund shortfall," he told reporters at the end of a panel discussion at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
Yin said that due to the further aging of the Chinese population, people were worried about pension fund shortfalls.
He said the ministry is studying the issue, and he hoped the regulations regarding old-age pension investment will be drawn up and enacted as soon as possible.
Tang Jun, secretary-general of the Policy Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said there should be no problem with pension payments.
"I'm sure the government will continue to improve pension regulations, and make them sustainable, so we needn't worry too much about pension payments," People's Daily quoted Tang as saying on Wednesday.
Premier Wen Jiabao announced on Tuesday at the opening of the annual legislative session that basic old-age pensions for enterprise retirees should be raised by another 10 percent.
This will be the ninth consecutive annual increase since 2005.
Such pensions rose from an average of 700 yuan per month in 2004 to 1,721 yuan at present, according to Wen's Government Work Report.
Tang said the rise can offset the mounting living costs of enterprise retirees, while helping close the pensions gap between enterprise retirees and government and public institution retirees.
The dual pension system is a matter of concern for some members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference - the country's top advisory body.
Zhang Wenxue, a national political adviser, said some retirees from government organizations were claiming pensions five times as high as those from enterprises.
"The adverse implications of the staggering difference could be tremendous," Zhang said. For example, it could undermine social equality and had partly resulted in more university graduates seeking employment at government agencies rather than enterprises.
"So the government needs to address the dual pension system as soon as possible," Zhang was quoted by the Hebei-based Yanzhao Metropolitan News as saying on Monday.