A government think-tank has proposed issuing long-term bonds to raise money for hard-up provinces to help laid-off and retired workers and curb labour unrest. The official China Securities newspaper detailed the plan by the State Development Research Centre which suggested that the Finance Ministry issue such bonds to state commercial banks and selected financial institutions this year. Part of the cash raised would go into retirement pensions in poor regions and the rest would increase basic living subsidies for laid-off workers and fund retraining programmes. An official at the Labour and Social Security Ministry said: 'The country has accumulated a total of 10 billion yuan (HK$9.3 billion) in its unemployment social security fund and 55 billion yuan in retirement pension funds. 'Such an amount should be enough to meet the current need. However, in some poor provinces, like Shaanxi and Liaoning, there are unpaid pensioners because of a serious shortage of retirement pension funds.' In such provinces, the state had to inject money to help their provincial governments pay pensioners as soon as possible, the official said. He suggested state input would also be needed to help laid-off workers of industries facing the worst difficulties, such as coal mining. 'Needy provinces using such cash are required to repay it to the central authorities in annual instalments,' the paper quoted a senior economist at the centre as saying. 'Relevant central ministries would be responsible for the supervision of the use and repayment of the money.' In another move, the Labour and Social Security Ministry has issued an order expanding the unemployment security scheme from state enterprises in cities only, to those in counties and townships. The scheme comprises a fund which receives contributions from workers and enterprises, with cash from it going to laid-off workers. Workers contribute one per cent of their salaries to the fund while firms put in two per cent.