The Government is hoping to find work for 60 per cent of the country's unemployed this year, according to Labour Minister Li Boyong. The private sector was expected to become the key provider of jobs, Mr Li said. In an interview published in the Communist Party's magazine Outlook, Mr Li admitted the authorities had failed to recognise the significance of the private sector. He promised new incentives to encourage small firms to create more jobs. Such incentives would be in the form of tax breaks, bank loans and retraining, he said. Last week, Vice-Minister of Labour Lin Yongsan said the Government was aiming to offer retraining to 10 million unemployed workers in three years. Although the official unemployment rate was only about three per cent last year, 13 million to 20 million urban workers were believed to be out of work. In the interview, Mr Li said the Government would stick to its policy of limiting bankruptcies and encouraging mergers and takeovers to ease unemployment. He predicted the private economy would soon take off on the mainland and provide job opportunities. But he did not hide his disapproval of the existing economic system, which he said neglected the importance of small firms in providing jobs. 'For a long time, China has not paid enough attention to the role medium and small firms can play in providing work,' he said. 'From now on, we must completely change our thinking and provide small firms the necessary support in terms of loans, management training and industrial and commercial taxes.'