BEIJING, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- China will reform its pension scheme by unifying the two separate systems for urban and rural residents to allow people better access to social benefits, according to an executive meeting of the State Council on Friday.
The move, part of the efforts to address pension payment gaps between urban and rural areas, was announced in a statement issued after the meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang.
The unified system will build stable expectations for improving livelihood and facilitate population movement, said the meeting statement, adding that it will also boost consumption and encourage more business start-ups.
The statement said pension funds will be pooled from individuals, employers and governments at various levels. The central government will provide more subsidies to people in less-developed central and western regions.
The pension system will serve as a safety net for millions of seniors, according to the statement.
China has the largest senior population in the world, with 194 million people at or above the age of 60 at the end of 2012, according to the China National Committee on Aging.
The age group is expected to grow to 243 million by 2020, and one-third of the population will be over the age of 60 by 2050.
Annual sessions will open soon for the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the top political advisory body, and the National People's Congress, China's parliament, according to the meeting statement.
The "two sessions" serve as an important channel for ministries and departments under the State Council to hear what the public has to say about government work, the statement said.