There are many highlights on ensuring and improving living standards in the Report on the Work of the Government this year. and the most prominent one is to build an innovative living standard security system and gather a great force for upward improvement.
Generally, while highlighting and improving various policies to ensure living standards, the report particularly emphasizes to fully release China's unlimited innovation potential through ensuring and improving living standards to explore broader space for the development of the country. This is not only in-depth innovation in poverty alleviation, but also a very active policy of ensuring and improving living standards.
The first outstanding feature is that it has more systematically determined the key policies for precision poverty alleviation.
At the same time, the report further highlights that poverty alleviation and acquiring wealth need industry support and emphasizes policies that vigorously support the development of industries with distinctive advantages in poverty-stricken areas. The specific policy that is further clarified in the report is to carry out special campaigns for prevention and control of education in poverty-stricken areas and significantly reduce dropout rate, emphasizing the use of education as a fundamental solution to block intergenerational transmission of poverty.
Significantly, the report combines poverty alleviation with some basic rural policies such as agricultural production, rural revitalization and rural reform - including “toilet revolution” and construction of beautiful villages, all of which are coordinated with poverty alleviation, highlighting a new pattern of poverty alleviation work.
The second outstanding feature is the vocational skills improvement initiative.
The report clearly states to allocate 100 billion yuan from the surplus in unemployment insurance funds to provide training for over 15 million people upgrading their skills or switching jobs or industries. This is a very specific and significant innovative employment policy. As stated in the report, stepping up the development of modern vocational education is a strategic move that will not only ease current employment pressure, but also help to address the shortage of highly-skilled personnel
It can be said that this is more comprehensive and action-oriented improvement based on startups and innovation nationwide. The new policy is to encourage more high school graduates, demobilized military personnel, laid-off workers, and rural migrant workers to apply for vocational colleges, achieve a large-scale expansion of one million in student enrollments this year, speed up work to align vocational technical grade certificates with academic credentials, and support enterprises and private actors in providing vocational education.
It is not difficult to see that this policy, if fully implemented, will possibly promote the overall improvement of the country's vocational and technical skills to form a sound vocational and technical support system, and form an organic system of urban and rural integration through the improvement of vocational skills. The innovative significance of this policy is self-evident.
The third feature is the in-depth development and comprehensive planning of elderly care policy.
According to the experience of developed countries, elderly care industry is a huge social industry and a basic hub for the combination of social welfare and social services. The basic policies emphasized in the report include: to take significant steps to develop community elderly care services, especially provide support to institutions offering services in the community like day care, rehabilitation care, and assisted meals and assisted mobility using measures such as tax and fee cuts and exemptions, funding support, and reduced charges for water, electricity, gas, and heating, and include facilities for community elderly care services in new residential areas; reform and refine policies for integrating medical and elderly care services; and extend trials for long-term care insurance. All these aspects are cutting the key to the current development of elderly care industry.
From the practice of elderly care industry, it is extremely urgent to develop community elderly care. In urban communities, there are widespread problems including unclear physical fitness status of the elderly and lacking implementation of service policy, some communities lacking understanding of elderly care, and policy defects, and prevarication. It is exactly these reasons that have caused unconnected macroeconomic demand and micro-implementation in many places.
For example, the sample survey on the living conditions of China's urban and rural older persons jointly published by China National Committee on Aging (CNCA), Ministry of Civil Affairs and Ministry of Finance has detailed survey data of disabled and semi-disabled elderly people; unfortunately, the communities are not clear about the specific family and personnel situation of these families and people. The macro-elderly care demand not being effectively implemented in communities has become a major obstacle to the development of current elderly care. If we conduct implementation of elderly care in community nationwide, it will definitely enhance comprehensive improvement of elderly care industry in China.
The fourth feature is the emphasis on improving maternal and child healthcare services, infant and child care services and early childhood education policies.
After the full implementation of the two-child policy, infant and child care and preschool education have been urgently put on the agenda, and many families face many practical difficulties. In this regard, the government work report clearly emphasizes to improve maternal and child healthcare services, encourage private actors to run childcare and early childhood education agencies, move faster to develop various types of infant and child care services, increase the supply of pre-school education through multiple avenues, and support all kindergartens that meet safety standards, charge reasonable fees, and have the trust of parents, regardless of whether they are public or private. This is a very important policy signal. Further implementation of these policies will surely promote rapid and comprehensive development of early childhood education. It should be said that it is entirely possible to embark on a new model by supporting social forces to expand pre-school education supply and thus promote the development of early education system in China.
The report requires that social protection for children in difficult situations will be improved. and this policy orientation is of important practical significance. From practice in some places, the definition of children in difficult situations is not clear and needs to be further embodied to truly cover the families with severely disability, serious disease, orphans raised by grandparents, and children of prisoners. The implementation of this policy will objectively benefit hundreds of thousands of children in various levels of difficult situations.
The fifth feature is to emphasize to guide and support healthy development of social organizations, humanitarian assistance, volunteer services, and philanthropy.
Since the implementation of The Charity Law of the People's Republic of Chinain September 2016, China's philanthropy has indeed made great progress. At the same time, we must also see that there is still improvement to be achieved in social organization specialization, humanitarian assistance, and volunteer service, etc. At present, there are already more than 800,000 social organizations with nearly 10 million employees; and how to comprehensively improve their professional performance of social services is a realistic challenge.
From the experience of various countries, the proportion of the value created by philanthropy through various services provided by social organizations in GNP can often exceed 5%. Philanthropy has become a huge social industry objectively while we still lack experience in developing it. If we the requirements of the report can be followed to improve the guidance and support for policy implementation, I believe there will be important social impacts.
The highlights of this government work report are indeed multifaceted. In the past, people often regarded living standard issue as simple capital investment, even a contradiction against economic development.
This year's report, however, emphasizes the organic connection between living standards security and social employment, entrepreneurship and related industries; it also innovates relevant policies while emphasizing investment increase living standards expense. Positioning the power for philanthropy is indeed important innovation that needs us to learn and understand thoroughly and change it into specific actions.