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Hu Vows to Narrow Income Gap

In a keynote speech to the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Hu Jintao said in Beijing Monday that China will deepen reform of the income distribution system to reverse the growing income disparity in the country.

"We will increase transfer payments, intensify the regulation of incomes through taxation, break business monopolies, create equal opportunities, and overhaul income distribution practices with a view to gradually reversing the growing income disparity," he told more than 2,000 delegates to the congress that opened Monday morning.

He stressed that equitable income distribution is an important indication of social equity.

A reasonable and orderly pattern of income distribution will be basically in place, with middle-income people making up the majority and absolute poverty basically eliminated, Hu pledged in the report on behalf of the 16th CPC Central Committee.

"Vigorous efforts will be made to raise the income of low-income groups, gradually increase poverty-alleviation aid and the minimum wage, and set up a mechanism of regular pay increases for enterprise employees," Hu said.

He pledged that conditions will be created to enable more citizens to have property income, and the Party will protect lawful incomes, regulate excessively high incomes and ban illegal gains.

Hu also detailed other plans for social development with the focus on improving people's livelihood, to ensure that all the people enjoy their rights to education, employment, medical and old-age care, and housing, so as to build a harmonious society:

-- To promote balanced development of compulsory education, move faster toward universal access to senior secondary education, a step further from the current nine-year compulsory education. The country will also work to ensure that children from poor families and of rural migrant workers in cities enjoy equal access to compulsory education as other children.

-- To establish a unified, standardized labor market and a mechanism that ensures equal employment opportunities for both urban and rural residents. The country will also improve employment assistance to the needy and make it a priority to help zero-employment families to have job opportunities.

-- To step up the building of a sound social security system that is based on social insurance, assistance and welfare, with basic old-age pension, basic medical care and subsistence allowances as its backbone, and supplemented by charity and commercial insurance. The country will also improve the low-rent housing system and speed up resolution of the housing difficulties of low-income families in urban areas.

-- To maintain the public welfare nature of public medical and health care services, always put disease prevention first, center on rural areas and attach equal importance to traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine.

(Xinhua News Agency October 15, 2007)

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