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Finance Minister: Fiscal Policy Important in Safeguarding Economy in 2003

China's proactive fiscal policy played important role in safeguarding the national economy in 2003,Finance Minister Jin Renqing said Saturday at the annual session of the national legislature.


Last year, the Chinese government continued to promote sustained and rapid economic growth and issued treasury bonds totaling 140 billion yuan to finance projects, the minister said in a report on the implementation of the central and local budgets for 2003 and on the draft central and local budgets for 2004.


While exercising strict management over these funds, the government improved the orientation and structure of use of these bonds by giving preference to rural areas, economic restructuring, the central and western regions, science and technology, education, improvement of the ecological environment and public health services, said Jin.


Transfer payments were increased to promote balanced development among different regions. General transfer payments from the central budget to local governments in 2003 totaled 191.2billion yuan, 17.9 percent more than the previous year.


Special transfer payments earmarked for social security, agriculture, science and technology, education, health and poverty alleviation amounted to 257.7 billion yuan, up 7.3 percent year-on-year.


In 2003, 2 billion yuan was appropriated from the central budget to set up the Anti-SARS Fund, and a policy was clearly stipulated to provide free SARS treatment for rural and impoverished urban patients.


Financial authorities at all levels allocated a total of 13.6 billion yuan for SARS prevention and treatment, including 2.8 billion yuan from the central budget. The central government appropriated an additional 1 billion yuan to improve the public health system in the second half of the year.


In addition, the minister said, the government introduced a range of preferential fiscal and tax policies to aid industries hard hit by the SARS outbreak, such as tourism, food and beverage service, civil aviation, railways, hotels and taxis, so that they could tide over difficulties to resume normal operations as soon as possible.


(Xinhua News Agency March 6, 2004)

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