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The delinquency rate for national pension premium payments fell to 36.6 percent in fiscal 2003 from a record 37.2 percent the previous year, with the number of people required to pay having declined, the Social Insurance Agency said Wednesday.

The rate is based on the number of months’ premiums that were not paid by those required to do so.

In the fiscal year through March 2004, the number of people covered by the national pension plan increased by 30,000, but the number exempt from paying premiums rose faster. As a result, the total number of people who were required to pay premiums decreased to 18.01 million from 18.36 million.

The national pension plan covers self-employed people and other adults who are required to pay premiums before reaching the age of 60. Students and those on low incomes are exempt from paying.

In fiscal 2003, the delinquency rate stood at 51.4 percent for those aged between 20 and 24, well above than the 20.2 percent for those aged between 55 and 59.

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