Less tax has been gathered in the first five months of this year because the economy is sluggish, state-owned enterprises are not doing well and the collection process is plagued by problems, a top official said yesterday. The analysis was made by Guo Zhenqian, vice-chairman of the National People's Congress Financial and Economic Committee, as he reviewed 1997 financial accounts, said Xinhua. It did not give figures. Mr Guo said problems included officials not trying hard enough to collect taxes and attempting to reduce taxes or exempt people from them without proper authority and cash going missing during the collection process. He called for more efforts to implement this year's budget, such as tighter controls on expenditure, raising investment in various programmes and improving tax collections. Mr Guo told the NPC Standing Committee revenues increased rapidly last year and control was gained over spending. Cash was mainly used to raise the grain risk fund, invest in central and western regions and reduce the financial deficit, he said. Mr Guo urged the standing committee's third session to pass the 1997 financial year's final account. NPC inspection teams will be sent to Yunnan, Zhejiang, Shaanxi and Hunan provinces next month for a 10-day probe into tax collection abuses. The standing committee was also given reports on two proposed laws. Wang Weicheng, chairman of the NPC's Law Committee, suggested revisions of two draft laws - one on doctors and the other on exclusive economic zones - be passed.