BEIJING, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- China's draft law on
social insurance, which aims to create a universal safety net for all the
country's 1.3 billion people, has fueled nationwide debate since it was opened
to public comment last December.
Over a 50-day time span ending Feb. 15, the country's
top legislature had received a total of 70,501 suggestions and proposals, the
Commission for Legislative Affairs of the National People's Congress (NPC)
Standing Committee said in a statement Thursday.
The proposals, written on the NPC website by netizens
or sent to the top legislature by letter, were from people all over the country,
including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, the statement said.
The social insurance draft, which underwent its
second reading by the NPC Standing Committee last December, specifies a common
right for citizens, urban and rural alike, to pay premiums and enjoy old-age
pensions and insurance for medical care, work injuries, unemployment and
Many netizens agreed that the law is urgently needed
as the government strives to expand domestic consumption in the face of the
international financial crisis.
"I believe domestic consumption will increase if
people don't have to worry about old age and expensive medical fees," an
anonymous netizen wrote on the NPC website.
China has established several policies concerning
social welfare since 1984. By 2008, about 219 million people have pensions and
about 317 million have basic medical insurance. An additional 124 million have
unemployment insurance, 138 million have work injury insurance and 91 million
have childbirth insurance.
Fu Yan, a migrant worker employed by a Beijing
household management company, said both she and her husband do not have any
insurance. "I didn't know anything about insurance when I signed a contract with
the company. All I wanted then was a job," said 28-year-old Fu, who is from
southwest China's Sichuan Province.
"There are a lot of migrant workers like me. It's OK
now since I am still young, but I do worry about the future. I definitely hope
the law could help us have insurance, like pension and medical insurance," she
To address the concerns of migrant workers, the
social insurance draft law allows Chinese citizens to pay pension premiums in
one place and draw money in another, if they migrate to other cities or
provinces. This stipulation is particularly significant as the country has a
much more mobile population than in the past.
The draft also determined that a new rural medical
system, in which farmers and governments raise funds together, would be included
in the medical insurance plan.
Meanwhile, governments will cover medical insurance
expenses for citizens who live on low-income subsidies, have serious
disabilities or are older than 60 years, the draft said.
The draft also highlights more efficient fund
management. Governments at municipal, provincial and the state-level should
encourage and support the public's participation in supervising insurance funds.
Any individual or organization has a right to complain or report illegalities.
Many netizens agreed that the law will be a
"blessing" to many people once it was adopted, especially to low-income groups.
"Many migrant workers, laid off workers and
unemployed people don't have any insurance. I think government should increase
investment and put them under the safety net to build a harmonious and stable
society," one netizen wrote.
But not all feedback was positive. Some people
complained the draft was too general.
"Articles in the draft are too simple and authorize
too much power to the local government," Tan Zhongxiao from central Hunan
Province wrote on the NPC website. "Social insurance law has a direct bearing on
everyone. I think the law should be more specific so that there will be no
problem when being implemented in the future."
The draft will be further revised based on the
public's proposals before it is passed on to lawmakers for the third reading
later this year, according to the Commission for Legislative