While Premier Li Keqiang’s Government Work Report won worldwide praise during the two sessions, another report on the central and local budgets has also earned much applause.
The report on the Execution of the Central and Local Budgets for 2016 and on the Central and Local Draft Budgets for 2017, delivered by the Ministry of Finance on March 5, has been submitted to the National People’s Congress for deliberation.
Policies and measures outlined in it mirror China’s efforts to curb government spending, cut taxes and fees, and increase fiscal expenditure to ensure people’s quality of life.
Premier Li pledged at the first news conference of the two sessions since he took office that the new government would cut rather than increase government expenditures related to official overseas visits, official vehicles and hospitality.
Statistics show as of 2016, government spending on the above three items has been declining for three consecutive years.
The Premier urged again in this year’s Government Work Report that central departments should take the lead in cutting general spending by no less than 5 percent in 2017, and any increase in spending on official foreign trips, vehicles and hospitality is not allowed.
This is to squeeze out more funds to cover cuts in taxes and fees, he said.
Premier Li also called on every province, municipality and county at local levels to keep abreast with central departments and firmly cut down government spending at the panel discussion with National People’s Congress deputies from Anhui province in Beijing on March 10.
These efforts have reflected the determination of the central government to guide local government to cut expenses and other unnecessary spending, a financial media commented.
“To enable the people to live well, the government needs to tighten its belt,” Premier Li said on many occasions, adding that the money saved by the government will be used to ease burdens for enterprises.
Last year, a total of 573.6 billion yuan of enterprise tax has been cut since the comprehensive implementation of the pilot reform of replacing business tax with value-added tax (VAT). Also, with the streamlining of a number of government funds, enterprises and individuals saved 46 billion yuan and another 600 billion yuan in taxes.
According to Jia Kang, a CPPCC member, structural reforms achieved remarkable results by greatly reducing costs for enterprises and stimulating vitality of the economy.
The budget report showed that this year’s financial deficit would reach 2.38 trillion yuan, an increase of 200 billion yuan from last year, creating room for further reduction on fees and taxes, and more expenses in key sectors.
To share burdens with enterprises, the government should announce a tight budget, which signals its resolution in sticking to reforms while building up confidence for enterprises and the market.
Huang Changlin, an NPC deputy, said that the government’s efforts to cut general spending are to make sure expenditures in sectors concerning people’s livelihoods.
It is reported that most of the government expenditures of 25 trillion yuan for 2017 focus on issues of people’s lives. And among the list of this year’s expenses, education, social security and medical care top the first three places.
Internet users spoke highly of the budget report, saying that “issues concerning people’s lives bring real benefits to the people” and “they are getting more and more practical every year”.
The budget report has fully explained the Premier’s governing concept of “People’s lives are the focus of the government”. “We should try our best to solve problems for the people and improve their lives. Although the government revenue grows slow, benefit for the people will not be cut,” Premier Li said.