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中国日报网 2016-03-16 17:10




Governments in some localities are having difficulty in paying pension benefits. Governments of some cities and counties have even borrowed money to make the payments. My question is, will the central government sit by and be hands off, or will the central government foot their bills?


You raised quite a sharp question. Honestly speaking, it is true that some localities have found it hard to make pension benefits payments, but these are only isolated cases. Now the pension schemes in China are managed at the provincial level. Our provincial governments have the responsibility and capability to raise funds through various channels to ensure the payments for pension benefits. If local governments have done their best, but still have special difficulty, the central government is prepared to extend help. In the past three years, the central government has earmarked one trillion yuan in this respect, make no mistake, local governments must exert their utmost, and the central government will supervise local governments to make sure that pension benefits are paid on time and in full.

One day, we will all be retired and live on pension benefits. So here's the message of reassurance. That is, nationally speaking and in the long run, there will absolutely be no problem in meeting pension payments by the Chinese government. Last year, the surplus of our pension insurance schemes was still at 340 billion yuan, and accumulative balance was 3.4 trillion yuan. Moreover, we still have the central social security fund, which is worth 1.6 trillion yuan, as a strategic reserve that has not been touched, and we can also use State-owned assets to replenish the social security fund. So, ensuring that the elderly will be provided for cannot and will not be an empty promise.


Bloomberg News: Mr Premier, in this news room last year you said China is determined to press ahead with reform that would be as painful as taking a knife to one's own flesh, and in this year's government report you talked about the need for a minimum 6.5 percent growth target, and we have also heard local officials saying there will not be layoffs as China presses ahead with overcapacity. So I am wondering how would you address concerns that the growth target and the desire to avoid potentially layoffs would bind China's hands and make it impossible to press ahead with reform that you said is crucial for Chinese economy?


One thing is certain: that we are determined to push ahead with our reform agenda. Reform and development are not in conflict with pursuing structural reform. We can further release market vitality and drive economic development. It is true that in some sectors there are serious problems of overcapacity, especially in heavy industries and petrochemical industries. We have selected the steel and coal sectors to start with the effort of cutting overcapacity and at the same time we will also avoid massive layoffs.

In the past two years, we have been faced with up to one hundred million tons of steel making capacity involving some one million employees, with a high priority given to protecting the interests of employees. We have taken strong steps to resettle these people and give them re-employment opportunities, and good experience have been enjoyed from the process. In a word, we will press ahead to deal with overcapacity and at the same time make sure that there will not be mass job losses. We will assign possible laid off people to new jobs and for those who still have difficulties in getting employment opportunities, the central and local government have financial resources to cover layoffs. The central government has established a 100 billion yuan fund in this respect, and if there is a need we could increase that amount. In the meantime, local governments have to do their own jobs. We hope to make it a win-win process and will strive to strike a proper balance in between. In the process we hope that by cutting overcapacity in those heavy industries, we will bring about a sustained and sound growth in these sectors.


People's Daily: Just now you said that the government will continue to streamline administration and delegate power to stimulate market vitality, so my question is about this government reform. This reform has been going on for several years, but some companies and people still feel that it's difficult for them to get some things done. In some cases, they even feel quite at a loss as to what to do. My question is, what will the government do to proceed with this reform?


Streamlining administration and delegating powers holds the key to transforming governments' functions. Three years ago, on the same occasion, I promised that this government would cut the number of items that require State Council review and approval by one-third during its term. We have already fulfilled this target. Based on third-party evaluations, most of the companies and our people are satisfied with the progress of the reform. Yet, some problems still exist, and our people expect more from the government.

At present, there are still too many items that require government approval. For those items that do need to exist, there is a lack of unified standards. A few days ago, in my discussion with some representatives of NPC deputies, one of them said that they wanted to establish a local nursing home that combines medical care with elderly care. It's a very popular idea with the local people. But many of them feel quite at a loss as to what to do, because there are different standards and they need to go through a host of government review procedures, involving market access, departments in charge of designated places for medical insurance, and how fees are going to be collected or set, etc. So all these redundant procedures have held back the development of productivity and also effective consumer demand among people.

We must make persistent efforts to forge head on this government reform and wherever there is an obstacle to this reform, the government must get right on it. The reform will cut government power but we are determined to keep doing it until our job is done, as that will deliver clear benefits to our people even if the government has to make painful adjustments. This year we are determined to further cut the number of such government approval items and leave more such items to the market.

For those items that still exist, procedures need to be simplified. We also need to further unify existing standards. In the past few years, we deepened business system reforms. We combined the requirements for business licenses and administrative permits. We have also introduced the practice of unified business licenses with the unified social credit code. All these have tremendously unleashed the creativity and entrepreneurial enthusiasm of our people. Now, on a daily basis, as many as 30,000 new market entities get registered. We will press ahead with this reform in various respects, for example, there are still too many requirements for certificates and various permits, and this year our goal is to further cut the number of such certificate requirements by half.

For government documents without solid legal grounds, and that have held back the entrepreneurship of the people, or even hurt their rights and interests, they will all be cleaned up, or abrogated. But to delegate powers does not mean the government will be hands off. Instead, it needs to do a better job in ensuring a level playing field, and it also need to redress such malpractice as arbitrary regulation. We hope that throughout this process, we will further boost this productivity, and bring more benefits to the people. So the government will provide better services to the people to ensure that they can get things done with greater ease.

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