Li Keqiang

State Council prioritises stabilisation of economic growth

State Council meeting chaired by new premier Li gives precedence to six sectors of the economy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 March, 2013, 5:31am

The central government has made stabilising and sustaining economic growth and basic price stability policy priorities this year, according to a statement issued yesterday after a cabinet meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

Meanwhile, the division of labour among the nation's four vice-premiers is becoming clearer. Vice-premier Wang Yang, formerly the party chief in Guangdong, has been assigned to oversee the agriculture sector. He chaired a State Council work meeting on Tuesday concerning spring agricultural production and another meeting yesterday on forestry and fishery matters.

Vice-Premier Ma Kai , who commented on the railway sector during a trip to Zhengzhou this week, appears to be in charge of the transport sector.

Premier Li highlighted six major areas, comprising 48 items, as policy priorities.

He ordered government departments to "improve monitoring and in-depth analysis of the economic situation and combine tasks to stabilise growth, cap inflation, avoid risk and propel economic development".

"There are more uncertainties and unstable factors in domestic and external environments," the government warned.

To spur economic growth and keep the price of consumer goods stable, the government plans to further liberalise interest rates and exchange-rate markets, according to the statement, which was posted on a government website last night.

Substantial progress must be made in reforming major areas to develop a multi-tiered capital market, the statement said. Li also highlighted tax and fiscal reforms.

Authorities also plan to rein in property prices and speed up medium- and long-term urbanisation plans, the statement said.

Without giving details, Li also pledged that the government would promote food safety and workplace safety, as well as address pollution-related issues "so that people can see hope".

The government also called for an increase in new jobs for the millions of people looking for work and an improved social security system.

The statement did not detail how either task would be accomplished.

Related departments were also urged to "properly use" the 2 trillion yuan (HK$2.5 trillion) earmarked for education this financial year.

Last year, for the first time, the government realised a pledge made in the 1990s - that fiscal spending on education would account for 4 per cent of gross domestic product.

Li also said the central government would inspect the progress of the work of related departments and assess their progress in the middle of the year, to ensure end-of-year targets are met.