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China finance: Pension-fund management varies

China finance: Pension-fund management varies Management and oversight of the centrally controlled "fund of last resort" tends to be more rigorous than they are in the case of the local-level funds, which have local oversight.

China finance: Pension-fund management varies Management and oversight of the centrally controlled "fund of last resort" tends to be more rigorous than they are in the case of the local-level funds, which have local oversight. In 2000 the government created the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) to alleviate provincial governments’ pension burdens, when local governments were unable to meet their pension obligations. The NSSF is a ministerial-level agency under the direct control of the State Council (China's cabinet), and is financed by sales of SOE assets and by fiscal revenue (including lotteries). Up to 40% of its funds are invested in equities, making it a significant institutional investor. Management of the NSSF is allocated to qualified asset managers, including local firms such as Boshi, Changsheng, China Asset, Penghua, and Southern Fund Management, in tranches of up to Rmb50bn (US$6.3bn). In late October the NSSF also announced that it had selected Citigroup and Northern Trust (both of the US) as the fund’s global custodians. According to the chair of NSSF council, Xiang Huaicheng, the fund is now estimated at Rmb1.8trn and is growing at the rate of 20% each year.

Whereas the NSSF is allowed to invest in equities, municipal pension funds are limited to bank deposits and government bonds. Some pooling has occurred among municipalities, but in general fund management and pension portability between regions are still lacking. China also lacks a national social insurance law, as the present administrative template is still governed by local regulations, whether provincial or municipal, and jurisdiction over pension provisions is also dispersed between the MLSS, the Ministry of Personnel and the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

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