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China weaves a stronger social security net

01-21-2012 10:51 BJT

by Xinhua writer Cheng Zhiliang, Cai Min, Liu Lu

HEFEI, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Since Zhou Yulan's husband died two years ago, the 76-year-old woman has lived alone in the dormitory provided by her husband's former work unit.

She made a living collecting scraps, because her residency files had gone missing since she moved to the city of Chuzhou, Anhui province, over 10 years ago.

But with the help of community cadres, Zhou rebuilt her residency files and now has a monthly income of at least 740 yuan (about 117.2 U.S. dollars).

"Now I can spend the rest of my life at ease," Zhou said.

According to the latest census data, about 140 million residents over 60 in rural and urban areas do not have pension insurance, and many lack a stable source of income.

But with the help of new policies, Chinese people's hopes of being looked after in their old age are becoming a reality.

The country kicked off the first rural pension insurance pilot programs in December 2009, and started urban pension insurance pilot programs in July 2011.

The new pension insurance is expected to cover the nation in 2012, making residents over 60 eligible to receive a monthly stipend.

According to China's central government, the basic standard of the endowment is 55 yuan a month, and that will be raised as the program spreads across the nation.

China's Minister of Finance Xie Xuren said that since 2003, China has increased the average retirement pension to 1,500 yuan per month, and will continue to increase the sum in 2012.

"China will also raise the minimum living standard, which was set up in 1999, by 12 or 15 yuan per month per person," Xie added.

Living in a low-rent apartment provided by the local government in Chuzhou, Dai Yongtao feels satisfied in his twilight years.

Dai once lived alone in a rented room, as Dai's son's family earned a small sum of money and crowded in a small place.

In 2011, Dai moved to the apartment provided by the government for 30 yuan per month.

"I used to live in a room with only a bed, but now I have a kitchen and a bathroom," Dai said.

In 2011, 35,800 low-rent housing units had been built in Chuzhou, and more than 10 million others were under construction by the end of October 2011.

The only thing Dai and Zhou worry about is medical expenses, but they needn't be anxious any longer, as government-provided medical coverage in Chuzhou will cover a maximum of 100,000 yuan in medical expenses, according to community cadre Wu Jing.

China launched a three-year project to include 1.3 billion Chinese people in the medical care system reform of 2009.

According to the statistics given by the Ministry of Health, 89 percent of urban residents and 97 percent of rural residents enjoyed medical security in 2011, up from 55 percent and 21 percent, respectively, in 2003.

At the beginning of 2006, Chinese President Hu Jintao reiterated the importance of establishing a social security system in line with economic development and promoted the building of the system.

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang called for more effective measures to ensure people's basic livelihoods, during his recent trip to the economically under-developed northwestern Ningxia Hui autonomous region.

"The government should shoulder the responsibility of addressing people's basic needs in various fields, such as education, medicine and old-age security," Li said.

Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: Xinhua

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