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Premier Li: Plan to be driving force of economy

Chen Mengwei and Zhao Yinan
Updated: Sep 5,2014 9:46 AM     China Daily

Long-term projects also expected to benefit people’s livelihoods

Premier Li Keqiang asked his cabinet members to work out a bundle of important engineering projects that could be “driving forces” of economic growth and restructuring when drafting the next five-year plan.

He made the remarks at a meeting on Sept 2, setting the tone for the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), a blueprint expected to lead China’s social and economic development for the coming years.

Major projects in previous five-year plans included the Three Gorges Dam - one of the world’s largest hydropower plants - and the Qinghai-Tibet rail.

“These big projects,” Li said, “can only be carried out after being included in our plan. Our plan must not be a display on the wall, but a practical plan.”

Wang Tao, head of China economic research at Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS, said it is unlikely the government would come up with strong stimulus measures in the 13th Five-Year Plan as in the past.

“The official statement revealed that the government will actively take part in some long-term projects to benefit people’s livelihood,” Wang said, referring to the document released on the government’s website after the meeting.

“Rather than another strong stimulus to the economy, the next five-year plan may focus on dealing with other problems,” Wang said.

Premier Li described the 13th five-year period as the “final dash” to a comprehensive well-off society, according to the document.

“The concept of a comprehensive well-off society is determined by the government, but some standards are widely accepted, such as annual GDP per capita,” Wang said.

But, she added, GDP growth is not the primary concern. “Improving people’s livelihood is the toughest job, especially in medical care. How can people from rural villages enjoy the same medical services as urban residents? How can we avoid people going broke due to illness?”

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