Zhu Rongji
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Stalinist planning body loses its teeth

Zhu Rongji

CHINA's last bastion of Stalinist command economics, the State Planning Commission, is now a shadow of its former self.

Deputy head of the commission Mr Gan Ziyu conceded yesterday that the organisation which has been responsible for drawing up and implementing China's five-year plans since the early 1950s had been reduced to little more than an economic consultative committee.

The commission no longer had very much power and would have to adjust further to the needs of the market economy, he said.

Major policy decisions are still taken by the State Council and the communist party's central committee, Mr Gan said, but much of the authority previously invested in the commission had been delegated to local governments and individual enterprises.

The main role of the commission now was to submit ideas and proposals on economic development to the State Council and co-ordinate overall economic development.

The commission, a huge bureaucracy with 25 departments covering virtually every aspect of the economy, would have to be streamlined, Mr Gan said, although he did not provide any details of how many job losses this would involve.

The powers and function of the commission would also have to be adapted to meet new conditions.

Mr Gan was adamant, however, that the commission would not be abolished altogether and replaced by the newly created super-agency the Economic and Trade Office, headed by Vice-Premier, Mr Zhu Rongji.