China's basic old-age pension payment will reach 400 billion yuan (50 billion U.S. dollars) in 2005, said Liu Yongfu, vice minister of Ministry of Labor and Social Security, in Beijing Thursday.
The amount of basic old-age pension was only 151.2 billion yuan in 1998, Liu said at a press conference hosted by the Information Office of the State Council.
Since 1998, the labor and social security administrative departments at various levels have redoubled efforts to ensure the timely and full payment of old-age pension to retirees," Liu added.
The pension arrears decreased from 600 million yuan a month in 1998 to 300 million yuan in 1999, and 100 million yuan in 2000.
There were 132-million-yuan arrears occurred in some localities in 2003, he said.
In recent years, there was no more new pension arrears, he stressed.
At the same time, localities were active in finding solutions to pay out the arrears occurred in the past, he said.
Liu said the coverage of social insurance has been extended to enterprises of diversified ownership while the number of the insured has been on rise, up from 112 million in 1998 to 173 million in 2005.
Among the insured, the number of individual businessmen and persons in the form of flexible employment grew from 5.35 million to 19.3 million, Liu said.
The net annual increase of retirees in recent years reached 3 million and an increasing number of retirees have benefited from the basic old-age pension scheme. In 2005 the number of pensioners amounts to 43.5 million, he said.
The multi-channel funding mechanism has been initially taken shape, which has provided financial security for the full and timely payment of pension benefits, Liu said.
The contribution collection has been enforced, which guaranteed the major resource of the old-age pension benefit, Liu said.
The amount of contribution expanded from 135.3 billion yuan in 1998 to 425 billion yuan in 2005 with average increase rate of 17.8 percent yearly.