China to continue its improvement in social security mechanism 03-09-2004 19:09

China will provide nine million people with employment opportunities, and to help five million laid-offs re-employed this year. The Ministry of Labor and Social Security delivered the message at a press conference on Mar.9 on the sideline of the ongoing National People's Congress. Officials noted at the conference that farmers and migrant workers are entitled to enjoy equal rights.

An all-encompassing social security system is already in place in China's urban areas, according to Zheng Silin, Minister of Labor and Social Security.

He noted up till now, more than 100 million urban residents benefit from state-subsidized pension plans, medical insurance and unemployment policies. But, he admitted, things are not so encouraging in the countryside. For the majority of the 800 million farmers, only 60 million have been included in the network.

The legitimate right of migrant workers is a hot topic at the on going NPC session. Official statistics show that 93 million migrant workers are now working in urban construction and tertiary sectors. It is fair for them to enjoy the same rights and interests as their urban counterparts. A Deputy Minister said the pressing issue for the government is to help them reclaim their delayed salaries.

The year 2003 is the first year when employment was made a macro-control target for economic development and social progress. Despite the total employment exceeded well over eight million, as the government had planned, the Ministry admitted China faces heavy employment pressure in 2004.

Without a comprehensive social security system to protect each individual's livelihood, it will be hard for China to push forward any reforms, either in the countryside or cities. But we must also be aware that China's social security network has been there for less than a decade. Therefore, we need time to put in place a full-fledged social welfare machanism.


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