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Premier Wen Pledges Stable Growth in 2004

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Friday that his government wants a seven percent economic growth for 2004, expecting to keep the economic speed train running stable while preventing the wheels from becoming too hot.


The target is set for a "stable and rapid economic growth without drastic fluctuations", Wen said in his report on the work of the government delivered at the opening of the Second Session of the 10th National People's Congress, the top legislature.


China registered a stunning economic growth of 9.1 percent in 2003.


In his report, Wen pledged that the government will adhere to the policy of expanding domestic demand and continue to implement a proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy this year.


The premier did not give an explicit assessment on whether the Chinese economy is on the brink of an overheating state or not, but he listed economic foes such as "excessively broad scale of investment, the serious problem of haphazard investment and low-level, redundant construction in some industries and regions".


The government plans to cut this year's construction treasury bond issuance by 30 billion yuan to 110 billion yuan, Wen said.


China began issuing such bonds in 1998 in a bid to expand investment to stimulate the then slowing economic growth.


The issuance of construction treasury bonds is an interim policy adopted during a period of insufficient demand and their scale should be reduced gradually as the increase in nongovernmental investment accelerates, Wen said.


Meanwhile, the government should make full use of the role of monetary policy, appropriately control the size of credit and optimize the credit structure to support economic growth while fending off inflation and financial risks, he said.


The consumer price index (CPI), a barometer measuring inflation, rose 1.2 percent in China last year. The prevailing view of domestic economists points to a further CPI increase in 2004.


(Xinhua News Agency March 5, 2004)


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