Domestic consumption a top priority for 2013

Updated: 2012-12-18 22:00

By Lan Lan (China Daily)

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China will continue to make the growth of domestic demand a top priority to keep growth momentum on track in 2013, the country's top economic planner said on Tuesday.

Domestic consumption a top priority for 2013

Customers select Santa Claus toys at a supermarket in Guiyang, Guizhou province, on Monday. Peng Nian / For China Daily

"The fundamental role played by consumption in bolstering economic growth needs to be strengthened, while the critical role played by investment should be well implemented," said Zhang Ping, minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, at its annual work conference.

To improve equality and purchasing power, the government will deepen income distribution reform in 2013, with an emphasis on bridging the income gap and widening coverage of the social security system, said Zhang.

"There are still some structural obstacles … and it will take some time to raise the income of low- and middle-income people," he said.

In addition, the government will develop a host of new initiatives to drive consumption, including promoting energy saving and new energy vehicles, and encouraging private investment in service agencies such as nursing homes.

The government will also encourage e-commerce and online shopping by upgrading logistics facilities and broadband networks.

Public investment will mainly cover low-income housing projects, urban infrastructure facilities, agricultural projects, public affairs, energy saving and ecological projects and innovation. Private investment in the construction of infrastructure and public affairs will be highlighted.

"China's economic fundamentals are good … but the urgency and complexity of next year's development environment cannot be underestimated," said Zhang.

Both the eurozone debt crisis and the looming "fiscal cliff" budget crisis in the United States continue to threaten the world's economy, while the latest rounds of quantitative easing in the US have added to the world's inflationary pressures.

External demand is unlikely to rebound in the short term, Zhang said. China's total trade volume in November was weaker than expected, up 1.5 percent compared with a year earlier.

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