Beijing yesterday pledged to allow the private sector to invest in key sectors such as petroleum, railways, electricity, telecommunications and public utilities. All these sectors were previously considered too sensitive to national security and consisted of state-owned monopolies. The National Development and Reform Commission guideline stresses the need to liberalise the market and give the private sector a greater role. Analysts said the move suggested that the leaders were hoping to revive the economy with the vast private sector, which is underused because of various restrictions. Last year, Beijing announced a 4 trillion yuan (HK$4.5 trillion) stimulus package, of which the central government will be responsible for funding 1.18 trillion yuan with the remainder coming from local authorities and state-run companies. Experts say the leaders now want to tap into the private sector. 'Policymakers realised the need for private capital investment to make up the shortfall by government and state companies,' said Yang Yiyong , deputy director of the Economic Research Institute under the Macro Economic Academy, an affiliate of the commission. The government has been saying that it will gradually scrap the state's monopoly in some industries, and Mr Yang said the latest move was in line with long-term reforms. 'In the short term, the move is to help revive the economy, and in the long term it is aimed at scrapping state monopolies in the economy,' he said. The commission, the top planning agency, will amend and publicise the investment projects catalogue that require government approval, cutting back on the approvals that are needed, and the number of approval authorities. Meanwhile, the government will accelerate the drafting of regulations on state investment, and the approval of enterprise-invested projects. Beijing is relying on capital investment and private consumers to boost the slowing economy, as exports have slumped amid the global downturn. Guided by the government investment package, the mainland's fixed-asset investments reached 3.7 trillion yuan in the first four months of this year, up 30.5 per cent year on year. Investment, exports and domestic consumption are seen as the three engines of the world's fastest growing main economy. 'The strong capital investment growth will offset the weakening exports,' said Ha Jiming, chief economist with the China International Capital Corporation.