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Government to Speed up Salary Rises

The central government will speed up raising the minimum wage and increase pensions amid the current consumption price hike, officials said Thursday.

In an interview via the government website, Qiu Xiaoping, director of the labor wage department of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, said the authorities have rolled out a series of proactive policies to increase wages.

The country's consumer price index, a bellwether of inflation, hit an 11-year record of 6.9 percent last month, which experts said was largely driven by soaring food prices.

Qiu said average wage increases have actually outpaced the increase in consumer prices.

But average wages of employees in some companies is still much lower, or lags behind others, Qui said.

The government will continue to impose a minimum wage system at the local level and quicken measures to plug the problem.

The country in 1993 started a system to safeguard workers' rights and ensure a steady increase of their income, which has since extended nationwide.

Criteria for setting minimum wages are decided by respective provincial governments and are said to be in line with economic development.

Beijing has set the standard at 8.7 yuan (US$1.2) an hour.

Qiu said local governments have increased the pace to raise minimum wages since 2004.

The central government has also decided to speed up increasing the pensions of company retirees nationwide from next year.

Yin Zhiyuan, deputy director of the endowment insurance department of the ministry, said that from next year, pensions of company retirees will increase by about 100 yuan a month.

The increase will take into account price fluctuations and company performance.

Yin said the country can afford the increase as pension funds in the majority of the provinces have been in surplus over recent years.

(China Daily December 28, 2007)

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