Premier Li Keqiang reaffirmed the government’s promise of keeping economic growth within a “reasonable range” by boosting “the twin engines” of growth, at an executive meeting of the State Council on March 18.
The meeting discussed guidelines regarding the duties of each ministry in putting government work targets in place, three days after the conclusion of the annual session of the National People’s Congress.
The Premier said more pressure and difficulties will emerge this year although the NPC has affirmed the government’s hard-earned achievements by approving the work report. “We must fulfill our promise to the public and ensure that the economy performs within a reasonable range,’’ he said.
Economic development: The key
The Premier also noted at the meeting that development still remains the priority among all government work tasks and reminded participants to stay clearly focused and adopt a sense of urgency when faced with current difficulties in economic development.
“The development of the economy lays the foundation for our governance as well as the people’s good living conditions. It is moreover the key solution to all problems in China,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Premier said related departments should get ready to carry out relevant policies if necessary, as China has an ample stock of “policy tools” that can be used.
To keep economic growth within a reasonable range is not only a promise made by the government, it is also an obligation to the country and its people, he said.
In order to ensure a reasonable range of economic growth, efforts need to be done in fostering and upgrading “the twin engines” of growth, he said.
The twin engines, referring to mass entrepreneurship and innovation as well as boosting public services and goods, which “has helped to promote employment amid a slowdown in economic growth last year”, he said.
However, the Premier said reform of the commercial registration system carried out last year is far from enough to maintain such momentum.
He asked all authorities to subdue their own interests and stimulate the public’s enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and innovation to address downward pressure in the economy.
The Premier pointed out some unreasonable institutional arrangements that still remain in many departments.
For example, some administrative departments that are responsible for affairs at macro level are interfering with decisions at the micro level, causing an overlap of reinforcement in different departments.
“As a result, people have to visit several departments in order to get permits for starting a business,” he said.
He also criticized the nonfeasance of officials at the meeting, saying that streamlining administration and delegating power to lower levels doesn’t mean that the authorities could do nothing.
“Even if ordinary people are treated in a better way when they come to the departments, what is the difference if they can’t get any permits for their applications?” he said, asking officials to be more active in fulfilling their duties.
More positive fiscal policies
The Premier said a lot of potential still remains in transforming the traditional engine of growth by focusing on increasing the supply of public goods and services.
He asked related departments to increase input in key areas that are closely related to people’s livelihood, such as railways in central and western provinces, and shantytown renovation.
The Premier asked for greater efforts in sorting out the remaining unreasonable approval items and activate capital stock in ministries and local governments.
In this regard, related policies should be carried out in a more flexible way in order to overcome the possible difficulties in the economy, he added.
“For a large economy like China, it is difficult to pull it back once the economy suffers an inertia fall,” he said, asking all departments to implement the approved projects as soon as possible.
If projects are not completed due to the nonfeasance of officials when the projects are approved and capital allocated, the capital and land should be withdrawn immediately and related officials should be held accountable, the Premier warned.