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Insurance for 80% Farmers in 7 Years

The Chinese government expects the pension network to cover 60 percent of the country's farmers by 2010 and 80 percent by 2015, a senior rural insurance official said on Sunday.

Releasing the rural pension plan till 2020, Zhao Dianguo, director of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security's rural insurance department, said the central government plans to set up a pension network for China's 730 million farmers, for which a detailed timetable has already been prepared.

An amount equal to about 2 percent of the central treasury can help set up a basic pension system for rural areas, he said at the launching of China Human Development Report (CHDR) in Beijing.

The pension system will be based on the experiences gathered from pilot projects in more than 300 counties. "A pension system would not only solve the social insecurity problem, but also act as a stimulus for higher consumption," Zhao said.

"The more secure rural people feel, the more money they will spend," he said echoing the message in the CHDR, which calls for equal provisions of basic public services for every Chinese.

Comprehensive institutional and policy reforms are essential for China if it wants to provide better health services, education and social security to its people, Khalid Malik, UN Resident Coordinator in China, said.

"The government's agenda accords priority to providing basic services, and its fast-paced action to do so will go a long way in easing the challenges of the financial crisis and economic slowdown," Malik said.

It took one-and-half years of research for the China Institute for Reform and Development to prepare the CHDR, which was commissioned by the UN.

The report says China's human development index is at its highest, and nearing the level of "high human development". But human development in the country still faces major challenges -- widening gaps between urban and rural areas, between the prosperous coastal regions and the poorer interior regions, between men and women, and between registered urban residents and migrant workers.

The core recommendation in the report is giving all Chinese people the right to a clearly defined set of basic public services framed by common standards.

"In this new era of development, real access to good quality basic public services should be considered a fundamental right of all Chinese and a responsibility of the government," the report says.

(China Daily November 17, 2008)

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