Local government bonds expected to stabilize growth

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, February 16, 2022
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A bank staff counts Chinese currency Renminbi banknotes at a bank in Tancheng County of Linyi City, east China's Shandong Province. [Photo/Xinhua]

China's January data on local government bonds bear testimony to the speed and effectiveness in fund allocations for ensuring stable growth this year and going forward, which could help boost investments in infrastructure and improve livelihoods, experts said on Tuesday.

On Monday, the Ministry of Finance disclosed that to date, some 1.788 trillion yuan ($278 billion) of this year's newly increased debt limit of local government bonds has been allocated in advance. Of the amount already allocated, 1.46 trillion yuan is for local government special bond quota.

In January, some 698.90 billion yuan worth of local government bonds have been issued by 24 localities. Among them, some 583.70 billion yuan was from the newly increased local government bond quota that accounts for about 33 percent of this year's total.

Major areas that will likely receive investment include transportation infrastructure, municipal construction and industrial parks.

Experts said local bond issuances mirror front-loading of measures for stable growth.

"It can be summarized from the fund issuance figures in January that a major proportion has been funneled into key infrastructure investment areas, suggesting heavyweight measures are in place to play a role in keeping investment stable," said Shi Yinghua, an economics professor at the Chinese Academy of Fiscal Sciences.

Shi said this signals private investment should also flow toward building infrastructure and underpinning growth.

"Compared with last January, this year, net financing from these local bonds increased by some 282.60 billion yuan," said Gao Ruidong, chief economist at Everbright Securities. "This indicates that local government bonds are issued to keep economic growth stable and made higher actual use of the funds earlier than before, to make an early impact."

Gao noted that some 63 percent of the funds released are funneled into infrastructure projects. More than half of these bonds will generate economic activities in transportation and industrial parks in cities.

"Also, the proportion of local government bond funds flowing into agriculture, forestry, water conservancy, ecological and environmental protection, and cold chain logistics has increased compared with last year," he said. "All these facts suggest the intensity of fiscal support for infrastructure is increasing."

January bond data, Gao said, show transportation infrastructure, municipal construction and industrial parks will be crucial in keeping investment stable this year.

Infrastructure investment relating to urban renovation, green growth and environmental protection is likely to emerge as a new growth driver, he said.

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