August 29, 2022
BEIJING – China will keep beefing up efforts to support people and meet their basic living needs, especially amid complicated situations such as the COVID-19 epidemic and recent natural disasters, authorities said at a news conference on Friday.
Yang Yinkai, deputy general secretary of the National Development and Reform Commission, said the adjusted mechanism of raising social benefits in tandem with price increases will alleviate impacts on the basic livelihoods of people living in hardship.
From January to July, the consumer price index increased by 1.8 percent year-on-year, with an increase of 2.7 percent in July, but far below the level of other major economies such as the United States and Europe.
“It is expected that the CPI control target of about 3 percent this year is achievable,” Yang said.
However, the domestic price level heading into the first quarter of next year may be slightly higher than the previous months, he added.
“Affected by the epidemic and natural disasters, the number of people living in difficulty has increased, and their basic livelihoods may face greater challenges. Even if the domestic price increase is not large, the impact on the group may be more obvious,” Yang said.
The State Council, China’s Cabinet, decided to extend the coverage of the mechanism to those receiving unemployment subsidies and people nearing eligibility thresholds for subsistence allowances from September to March next year.
Wan Jinsong, director of the commission’s department of prices, said the expansion of the mechanism is expected to benefit an additional 9 million people to cover a total of 67 million people.
“Those receiving unemployment subsidies are included because of their unstable income and difficulties in basic livelihoods,” Wan said.
Meanwhile, the living condition of people nearing eligibility thresholds for subsistence allowances are relatively poor as their families have seriously ill or disabled members, he said.
Given the difficulty of people’s incomes increasing due to the epidemic, one of the triggers of the mechanism－monthly consumer price index increases－will be periodically lowered from 3.5 percent to 3 percent.
The areas triggering the mechanism, especially in western China, will be expanded after the adjustment, allowing more people in hardship to receive social benefits and live a secure life, Wan said.
It is expected that from September to March, people in hardship nationwide will be provided with about 20 billion yuan ($2.9 billion) of temporary subsidies, of which 7 billion yuan will be added because of the expanded mechanism, he added.
Yang stressed that the temporary price subsidies must be allocated in full amount in the same month when the CPI figures are released.