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Premier Wen targets causes of instability, stresses fair treatment of disadvantaged groups

BEIJING, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Sunday laid out three planks of government policy essential to maintaining stability: closing income gaps; equal benefits and opportunities for rural residents; and eradicating corruption.

Ensuring fair income distribution was an important task in the next five years as it had a direct bearing on social justice and stability, Wen said during a two-hour web chat with the public.

"We will ensure incomes keep pace with economic growth and salaries keep pace with increased productivity," he said.

He said the government would tackle the problem by increasing salaries of low-income groups and minimum living allowances; containing salaries in the industries with higher incomes; and protecting lawful incomes, cracking down on illegal incomes and regulate excessively high incomes.

His chat via the websites of the central government ( and Xinhua News Agency ( came six days before the opening of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature.

Answering a cab driver's question on taxes, Wen said the State Council, the Cabinet, would discuss on Wednesday a plan to raise the threshold of personal income tax, which would, if implemented, benefit middle and low-income groups.

The plan would be delivered to the NPC for review, he said.

The current threshold is 2,000 yuan (304 U.S. dollars) a month.

He also pledged to raise pensions for business retirees, whose incomes lag behind those of government department and institution pensions.

The government had increased pensions by up to 10 percent a year for business retirees over the past seven years, but their incomes were still relatively low, Wen said.

He said pension system reform would be steadily carried out in government departments and institutions.

"I always say we should not only make the cake of social wealth as big as possible, but also distribute the cake in a fair way and let everyone enjoy the fruits of reform and opening up," he said.

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