China's State pension system is "generally stable" and can pay for various social security programs in full and on time, You Jun, vice minister of human resources and social security, said on Friday.
From January to June, China collected more than 1.9 trillion yuan (US$276 billion) in employee basic pension funds from companies, while spending around 1.6 trillion yuan. By the end of June, the total pension insurance surplus was more than 5 trillion yuan, You said at a news briefing organized by the State Council Information Office of China.
As for the work injury insurance fund, China collected around 38 billion yuan in the first half of the year, and spent more than 36 billion yuan, with a total surplus of over 170 billion yuan at the end of June, ministry data show.
The unemployment insurance fund received an injection of more than 57 billion yuan from January to June, and spent more than 54 billion. It had a surplus of 580 billion yuan.
There have been some doubts recently on whether the country will lack pension funds, following media reports saying that those born after 1980 may not get enough of a pension after retirement. A report by the Social Security Research Center with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences predicts the pension fund may face a shortage as early as 2035.
The government's move to alleviate companies' financial pressures by reducing their social security expenditures this year also fueled such concerns, as a lighter burden for companies may result in fewer contributions to the State social insurance funds.
Under the current mechanism, both individuals and employers should pay a certain amount of money to the State insurance funds.
To address the concerns, You made it clear that China's State pension system is operating smoothly, and "can pay for various social security programs in full and on-time".
In April, the State Council, China's cabinet, issued a new regulation on reducing companies' social security burdens, optimizing the pension system while ensuring various social programs are functioning properly.
You said the new regulation is being implemented smoothly throughout China, and is well received by companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises.
Since May, 29 provincial-level regions have lowered their companies' worker social security payment ratio from 20 to 16 percent. In the first half of the year, a total of 128 billion yuan of various social security expenditures was exempted from companies thanks to a slew of government policies, according to the ministry.
At the same time, the central government has been enhancing national coordination by developing a central adjustment system for the basic pension funds to balance the surplus of pension funds among provincial-level regions.
In November 2017, the State Council also issued a program on replenishing social security funds with State capital, deciding at the time to run a pilot program in selected centrally administered enterprises and provinces and set the transfer ratio at 10 percent of their State-owned equity.
Lu Qingping, head of the resource management bureau of the Ministry of Finance, said at the news briefing on Friday that 59 major State-owned enterprises are expected to transfer 660 billion yuan of their assets into the State pension fund.
Lu said the program is operating according to the plan, with many provinces also conducting preliminary surveys into their local companies and selecting the next batch of SOEs for the replenishing effort.
She acknowledged that there have been some problems during the process that require further explanation and regulations, without elaborating on the problems.
Various ministries and government bodies are working hard to solve these issues, and relevant documents will be released soon after being reviewed by the State Council, she added.