New rule creates social safety net
The State Council, or China’s Cabinet, issued a rule on Thursday dedicated to improving the social aid network for the underprivileged.
There are 13 chapters and 70 articles in the Interim Regulations on Social Assistance issued by the State Council. The regulations set details about the minimum standard of living for low-income people; rescue and relief for people affected by disasters; and medical, education, housing and employment assistance. The new rule will take effect in May.
The rule says elderly people without income, disabled people who are unable to work and minors under age 16 will be under the State’s care.
The nation will establish an emergency medical assistance system, offering help to people who need immediate treatment. A medical fund will be established to pay the medical bills for patients in critical situations who cannot be identified.
The regulations, passed by the State Council, provide a comprehensive social safety net for vulnerable social groups who fall into various difficult situations, said Tang Jun, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Research Center for Social Policy, according to China Times, a Beijing-based newspaper.
Enforcement of the stopgap rule can help to draw lessons and experience for a higher level of legislation, he said.
The proposal for the National People’s Congress, or China’s top legislature, to stipulate a sound law on social assistance was initiated in the early 1990s. However, because of complications, the long-awaited law has yet to be drafted. The State Council decided to make a stopgap rule in December and began to solicit online public opinion about the draft in January.
Lyu Xuejing, a social security expert at Capital University of Economics and Business, said effective enforcement of the new regulations will require further interpretation about how governmental departments should divide tasks and cooperate.
Where the money for the social safety net will come from, how to distribute the funds and how to punish any abuses should be clarified, she emphasized.
Strict supervision of the massive amount of money spent on social aid work is also vital, she added. Contact the writers at hedan@ chinadaily.com.cn and email@example.com.