Premier Li promises reasonable growth rate

Updated: 2013-11-08 01:04

By ZHAO YINAN (China Daily)

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Greater efforts must be made to enhance social welfare, premier tells provincial heads

Premier Li Keqiang has pledged to keep economic growth within a reasonable range and push forward with economic restructuring.

He has also called for greater efforts to enhance social welfare.

The economy has shown signs of stabilization and strength, Li said while presiding over a meeting in Heilongjiang province.

"But more concerted efforts should be made to accomplish this year's major tasks and create favorable conditions for the coming year," the premier said at the meeting.

It was attended by the heads of Heilongjiang, Jilin, Fujian and Henan provinces and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

The government set an annual target for economic growth of 7.5 percent at the start of the year, which is widely expected to be accomplished. Growth for the first three quarters reached 7.7 percent year-on-year.

Li said development must be scientific and feature quality and efficiency. It must also create more job opportunities and improve people's well-being. He called for greater efforts to enhance livelihoods, to bring the benefits of reform to the people and to avoid events occurring repeatedly that disrupt the "psychological bottom line" of society.

He attributed China's economic recovery against the backdrop of a gloomy global economy to a correct macroeconomic policy that can "stabilize the current situation" while "benefiting the economy in the long run".

The cancellation of administrative approval procedures and the delegation of some government powers to lower levels, for example, have better served private investors and enterprises, he said.

Tuesday's meeting was the second time in a week the premier sought views on the economic plan for next year. On Oct 31, he invited economists and corporate leaders to a meeting where he stressed that China will strike a balance between growth and reform.

The top leadership's repeated remarks on avoiding blind pursuit of GDP growth ahead of a major Party meeting — the Third Plenum of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee — indicates that Beijing has reached a consensus that tolerates modest growth in the next three to five years, analysts said.

Reforms to be unveiled after the key Party meeting have also attracted much attention, as the world is concerned about whether China will continue to make sustainable contribution to global development, said Zhuang Jian, an economist at the Asian Development Bank.

"The health of the future Chinese economy will lay the groundwork for those contributions," Zhuang said.

Data from the International Monetary Fund show China contributed 29.8 percent of the world's net economic growth between 2008 and 2012.

The country's economy, partly hit by sluggish external demand, expanded by 7.8 percent last year, the slowest pace since 1999.

Zhuang said the next round of reforms should try to eradicate factors that hold the country back from sustainable growth. He cited problems including an over-reliance on investment and exports and the unwise use of resources.

Zhang Liqun, an analyst with the Development Research Center of the State Council, said the reforms will take China's growth to a higher-level, lower-cost and more sustainable pattern.

The country's global contribution can be expected to grow in quality and efficiency, Zhang said.

Zhao Yumin, an analyst at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said the past three decades of reform and opening up have taught China that it should actively integrate into the world economy.

Zhao said the newly established Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone is a key market-oriented reform, with a series of policy experiments in trade, investment, governance and the financial and service sectors.

The analyst said she expects the government to build a domestic market with competition and rule of law through the reform plans, while a macroeconomic policy will be reinforced to guard against possible external risks.

In one of the latest highlights of the government's administrative reform, the State Council decided last week to streamline the corporate registration system to ease market access and mobilize social resources, which analysts believe is a concrete step to improving China's business climate.

Xinhua contributed to this story.