Gross domestic product growth on the mainland this year will be strong but lower than the 7.8 per cent recorded last year as weak consumer spending and crisis hit exports take their toll. Liu Hong, director-general of the State Statistical Bureau (SSB), at the official launch of its Internet Web site at stats.go.cn, also revealed detailed performance figures for the economy last year. 'GDP growth this year will be a little lower than in 1998 but still will be at a fairly high level,' he said. Last year, GDP grew by 7.8 per cent, largely thanks to fixed asset investment, which accounted for 4.7 percentage points, up from 3.3 in 1997, while the share of exports fell to 0.4 percentage points from 2.4 in 1997. 'The impact of the Asian crisis is not over, Russia is in financial crisis and there has been a significant devaluation of Brazil's currency. All these are bad for China's exports. And we cannot see signs of a significant growth in consumption this year,' Mr Liu said. Most of this year's growth will have to be derived from a fiscal spending package launched last July, with 100 billion yuan (about HK$93 billion) in bonds and an equal amount of new bank credit. The main figures for last year have already been published but the statistical bureau's report revealed the seriousness of the situation. Of the 25 price indices, only four rose from the 1997 level, with services rising 10.1 per cent and medical and health rising 2.8 per cent. All other prices fell; grain was down 3.1 per cent and meat and poultry fell 9.1 per cent. Producer prices of industrial products fell 4.1 per cent. Energy production fell by 6.1 per cent and electricity output rose only 2.8 per cent. The losses at state firms rose 22.1 per cent to 155.6 billion yuan, while the inventory of manufactured goods rose 5.5 per cent to 609.4 billion yuan. Asked about the quality of his statistics, especially in light of a newspaper report stating GDP growth of more than 8 per cent in many provinces and cities, Mr Liu said: 'For their own interests, some local governments overstate the figures. 'Our statistical system is not perfect, especially in rural areas, where we have to rely on estimates and the quality of figures is not good.'