Beijing keeps faith with proactive fiscal policy
Cary Huang in Beijing
China will make its 'proactive fiscal policy' more flexible in the second half of the year after revenue soared in the first six months, Finance Minister Xie Xuren said yesterday.
The government would push ahead with programmes to stimulate domestic demand, Xie said, as his ministry announced the 27.6 per cent year-on-year rise of fiscal revenue in the first half.
The Ministry of Finance will maintain its currently 'active fiscal policy' and make 'stability the main theme of macroeconomic adjustments', Xie said in comments posted on the ministry's website.
National fiscal revenue in the first half was 4.33 trillion yuan (HK$4.96 trillion), while expenditure rose 17 per cent from a year earlier to 3.38 trillion yuan, which led to a 953.84 billion surplus for the period.
Xie said the policy priority would be to boost domestic consumption as Beijing moves away from its main drivers of economic growth - exports and investment - in recent years.
'The ministry will continue to push forward with various policies intended to stimulate domestic consumption, including incentives for rural purchases of household appliances and trade-ins of old automobiles,' Xie said at a conference to outline plans for the country's economy in the second half of the year.
In 2008, China shifted its fiscal policy from a 'prudent' to a 'proactive' stance and eased monetary policy from 'tight' to 'moderately loose', as it introduced a massive 4 trillion yuan stimulus package to cushion the impact of the global financial crisis.
Xie made no mention of an exit strategy from the government's stimulus package, which is due to expire at the end of the year. He said the ministry would implement plans already in place.
Premier Wen Jiabao told a Politburo meeting last week that the government would keep policy stable in order to achieve fast and steady economic growth in the second half. Beijing's recent emphasis on policy stability while focusing on fast growth has reassured markets that no new tightening measures, such as those taken against property market speculation in April, are imminent.
Xie urged local governments to implement the minimum wage system and programmes such as the subsidised home appliance purchase scheme in rural areas and car replacement policy.
He also demanded continuous financial support for agricultural production, technological innovation, energy saving, emission cutting projects as well as disaster relief, among others.
Xie said the government would increase fiscal support of the country's 'Go-West' programme, especially in Tibet and Xinjiang.
However, he described the overall budget position as still tight for 2010 because revenue growth was likely to slow in coming months, despite the first-half surplus.
Xie attributed the robust growth to a strong economic recovery as well as a low base of comparison in the year-earlier period.
The world's third-largest economy has maintained double-digit growth of 11.1 per cent in the first half of this year, compared with the same period last year. Revenue growth is set to slow in the second half, Xie said.
National fiscal revenue in the first half was 4.33 trillion yuan
Expenditure in the first six months was 3.38 trillion yuan, an increase of: 17%