Transfer of pensions

Updated: 2012-11-28 08:00

(China Daily)

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The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security is soliciting public opinion on temporary rules for the transfer of pension accounts among three different types of pension programs. These rules, due to take effect next year, are meant to protect the rights and interests of migrant workers and the urban unemployed and will hopefully be the prelude to the real integration of rural laborers into the cities as local residents.

The three pension programs are the pension insurance for urban workers, pension insurance for urban residents and pension insurance for rural villagers. The rules stipulate that those who have already entered either of the latter two programs can transfer the money in their accounts to that for urban workers if they have a job in an urban area and have paid into their urban workers' pension accounts for 15 years.

In reality, there will not be many rural laborers who will benefit from such rules since most of them work as odd-job laborers and thus do not enjoy an urban worker's pension. For young rural laborers, the new rules mean they can enter the rural pension program and pay into their rural pension account without ever worrying that they will lose the money once they get an urban job. The same is true for unemployed urban residents.

Theoretically, these rules acknowledge the unfairness behind the gap between urban and rural areas. They are actually telling rural migrant workers that they have the hope of getting a pension for urban workers and they can have a pension for rural villagers as a transition to a much higher pension program.

It is indeed unfair for rural migrant workers not to get the same social benefits as their urban counterparts when they are contributing to urban construction and provide services for urbanites.

But their real integration into the cities will be a long process. These rules open a crack that will hopefully be widened by future reforms so that rural laborers get more of the social benefits they are entitled to, until they or their children become urban residents in real sense.

Minor as the breakthrough is, such rules are undoubtedly efforts in the right direction. It gives us the hope that more such moves will one day help realize substantial change in the lives of the more than 200 million migrant workers in this country.

(China Daily 11/28/2012 page8)