'Livelihood issues' remain top concerns for Chinese

08:53, February 14, 2011      

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"Livelihood issues," including the social security system and affordable housing, remain the Chinese people's top concerns, as indicated in online polls prior to the country's annual parliamentary and political advisory sessions.

Many Chinese have voiced their complaints online in the hope that their voices could be heard by the country's top leaders, national lawmakers and political advisors who will gather in Beijing next month for the two sessions.

Among the 25 listed topics, "affordable housing" has become the issue receiving the most votes as of 11 am Saturday in a survey on xinhuanet.com, the website sponsored by Xinhua News Agency.

The topic earned some 5.92 percent of the 362,126 votes cast and was followed by concerns about inflation, employment and income.

China has witnessed escalating housing prices over the last few years, while owning an affordable house has been a dream that has been extremely hard to realize for many citizens.

In their postings, the netizens expressed hope that the government could accelerate the supplying of affordable houses to low-income groups and tighten measures to rein in property prices.

"The affordable houses should never be used as a tool of profiteering for rich people," said an online posting, adding that the allocation of such inexpensive houses should be strictly exclusive to those requiring assistance.

According to officials, China plans to build 10 million affordable apartments and houses for the country's poorest citizens in 2011.

Additionally, the government has recently introduced much tougher measures to check property speculation and contain surging housing prices.

Social security system

On people.com.cn, a website subsidiary of the People's Daily newspaper, most of those who were surveyed were most concerned with the social security system in China.

Of a total of 111,376 votes on over a dozen topics, "social security" gained 28,055 votes and remained the largest concern for the Chinese people, according to the ongoing poll on the website as of 12 pm Saturday.

Netizens also complained about the existing "dual pension scheme," in which civil servants and employees at government-affiliated institutions were entitled to pensions several times the amount of pensions for others employed by non-public entities, including enterprises. Further, many expressed hope that the ratio of money reimbursement for those insured under the social security system could be further increased.

China aims to guarantee universal access to pensions for ageing groups in rural areas and further improve the pension system for city dwellers in the coming period of 2011-2015, according to officials.

Besides, over the past five years China has been continuing to raise the pension for retired enterprise-employees.

In the latest development, China raised the retired enterprise-employees' pension about 10 percent from 2010 levels, beginning January 1, 2011.

Song Xiaowu, head of the China Society of Economic Reform, said China has been long-haunted by an uneven allocation of social security resources between the country's different groups.

"Namely, between the urban and rural areas, farmers and city workers, enterprise employees and government staff, ordinary workers and officials." he said.

It remains a tough task for China to ensure balanced allocation of social insurance resources throughout the entire society as it carries forward its reform efforts to a new phase, Song said.

Source: China Daily
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