Lawmakers suggest open elderly care market

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BEIJING, (Xinhua) — Chinese lawmakers have suggested that the elderly care market be fully opened to address the huge demand from the country’s rapidly aging population.

Inadequate development of the industry has caused a big gap between demand and supply, according to a report submitted Tuesday to the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee for review.

Most communities lack service facilities for the old, and existing ones are unprofessional or underdeveloped, said the report delivered by a group of lawmakers led by Wang Shengjun, vice chairman of NPC Standing Committee. The report was based on the implementation of a law on the protection of senior citizens’ rights and interests.

Some favorable policies for elderly care development, such as those regarding land use, financing, subsidies and government purchases, were inadequately implemented in some areas, the report says.

Other issues with the industry include low pension payments, inadequate medicare insurance and a lack of commercial insurance.

The situation is worse in rural areas, where many old people are left alone as their offspring migrate to cities for work, according to the report.

The report suggests that more non-government entities be allowed to enter the sector and private funds are encouraged to invest, including overseas investors.

The government should help with infrastructure planning, land use and financial issues to encourage investment, it says.

It advised authorities to encourage banks to issue more loans to the industry.

In addition, families should practice their legal obligations and support their senior relatives, supporting them in their lives and mental wellbeing, it added.

Governments at all levels should implement the national strategy for the aging population and train more staff, it says.

By the end of 2014, China had 212 million people aged 60 or above, 15.5 percent of the total population. The figure is expected to reach 243 million by 2020.

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