Beijing's spending promises fail to help state-run building firms

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 October, 2015, 1:36am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 October, 2015, 1:37am

China wants to boost spending on railways and roads, but the money is not going to the state firms that build them, adding to worries that public spending will take longer to revive the economy as officials dither about contracts.

China's biggest state builders - China Railway Group, China Railway Construction, and China Communications Construction - on Friday reported declines to flat growth in new contract wins over the January to September period, continuing a trend that began to emerge late last year.

Their results contrast with the near tripling in the value of infrastructure projects approved by Beijing during the first nine months of this year compared with the same year ago.

The government signed off on at least 63 major infrastructure projects worth about 934 billion yuan over the period, according to announcements posted on the National Development and Reform Commission's website.

"There is this disconnect between government policy and what you read in newspapers versus the reported numbers by these listed companies," said Barclays analyst Yang Song before the results.

"This year, there's a gap between approvals and the rail project starts. The gap is much wider this year," she said.

President Xi Jinping's far-reaching corruption crackdown, which has snared people from top politicians to lowly executives, has inadvertently led some government officials to dither over big decisions, such as new investment projects, for fear of unwanted attention, sources told Reuters last year.

A push by the central government to bring private investors into public projects which has struggled to take off has also hurt the construction firms, analysts say.

China Railway Group, which built two-thirds of the country's railway network, said the value of newly signed contracts over January to September fell 8.9 percent year on year.