Development Goals Set for 2001

Zeng Peiyan, minister in charge of the State Development Planning Commission, spelt out targets and major tasks for China's economic and social development in 2001 Tuesday in his report to the current NPC session on the Implementation of the 2000 Plan for National Economic and Social Development and on the Draft 2001 Plan.

Speaking on the second day of the Fourth Session of the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC), the minister said that China will continue to boost domestic demand, follow a proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy and make comprehensive use of macro-regulatory means to consolidate and promote economic growth.

Relying on institutional innovation and scientific and technological innovation as well as IT-led industrialization, he urged to work vigorously to promote strategic restructuring of the economy; strengthen the position of agriculture as the foundation of the economy, intensifying efforts to support and protect agriculture and increase the incomes of farmers; accelerate the transformation of the way state-owned enterprises operate and improve their management in order to consolidate and build on what has been achieved.

The country should prepare well for entry into the WTO, open wider to the outside world and energetically work to shape an opener economy, he noted.

He pledged to widen employment channels, step up efforts to establish and improve a social security system and continue to improve people's standard of living.

"We must balance reform, development and stability to promote sustained, rapid and sound development of the national economy and overall social progress, trying our best to get off to a good start on the fulfillment of the tenth Five-Year Plan," the minister said.

In accordance with these requirements, China's major targets for national economic and social development in 2001 are as follows:

- Economic growth rate: seven percent;

- Increase in total fixed asset investment: around 10 percent;

- Rise in consumer price level: 1-2 percent;

- Rise in total import and export volume: around eight percent;

- Central government deficit: 259.8 billion yuan;

- Total volume of currency issued: within the range of 150

billion yuan;

- Maximum registered urban unemployment rate: four percent; and

- Natural population growth rate: less than one per thousand.

The minister also put forward the major tasks for national economic and social development in 2001 as follows:

-- Continuing to boost domestic demand and maintaining rapid development of the national economy.

Continued expansion of domestic demand is a long-term strategic policy underlying China's economic development and an important means for solving the problems plaguing economic activities. This policy is necessary in order to maintain the good momentum of economic growth. We will continue to follow a proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy for some time to come while working to expand effective demand.

China will adopt vigorous measures to promote rapid expansion of total fixed asset investment. The focus of fixed asset investment will be on projects in progress that are financed through treasury bonds; development of agriculture, forestry, water conservancy, transportation, telecommunications and urban infrastructure, environmental protection, construction and upgrading of power grids in urban and rural areas and construction of state grain reserve facilities; technical upgrading in enterprises and commercialization of high technology; basic facilities for science, technology and education; and the strategy of large-scale development of the western region and acceleration of the development of the central and western regions.

He continued that the government will also step up preliminary work on the projects to divert water from the south to the north and carry out other preparations so that work on them can start soon.

Zeng pledged to review and abolish unreasonable regulations that restrain investment from society, create the conditions necessary for fair competition to allow all types of enterprises to develop, and encourage and guide non-state businesses to increase investment.

The key to increasing effective demand is the stimulation of markets and expansion of consumption, he said, noting that the government will reform the system of state-funded consumption and revise policies designed to stimulate consumption; continue to review regulations concerning electricity, housing, telecommunications and motor vehicles, abolishing provisions that restrain consumption; establish and develop a personal credit system and encourage expansion of consumer credit; improve the system of public accumulation funds for housing, speed up efforts to relax control over the secondary market for housing and develop the market for renting and leasing housing; and expand areas of consumption by developing tourism, training courses, community services, culture and entertainment facilities, sports facilities, and health services.

Zeng went on to say that the government will promote the restructuring of agriculture and the rural economy. He urged all local authorities to protect basic farmland and related production facilities. Major grain-producing areas should continue to take advantage of local conditions for grain production, keep production stable and preserve production capacity, he said.

China will establish a market information system for farm products to guide producers to restructure the pattern of production in response to changes in market demand and expand production of superior and special varieties, the official said. The government will encourage these enterprises to cooperate with producers so that both can benefit from the industrial management of agriculture.

He said that farmers' incomes will be increased through various channels. We need to divert more of the surplus rural labor to township and village enterprises and other businesses. The government will guide the movement of rural workers to urban areas to ensure that flow is orderly and direct more of such workers into infrastructure development projects.

The financial system in rural areas will be developed, the financial services there will be improved and more financial support will be given to the development of agriculture and the rural economy, he said, adding that the government will also step up the transformation of administrative fees into taxes in rural areas to reduce the burdens on farmers.

Great efforts will be made to ensure adequate food and clothing for people who are still in poverty and prevent people from relapsing to poverty, according to the minister. More anti-poverty efforts will be directed to areas where ethnic minority groups live in the central and western regions, the old revolutionary base areas, border areas and areas stricken by extreme poverty, he said.

He pledged to continue to provide indigent people with development-oriented assistance, raise anti-poverty funds through various channels and improve the basic conditions for production and daily life in poverty-stricken areas, and carry out experiments in a planned way to move impoverished people from areas where natural conditions are too harsh to fit for human habitation and help them start a new life elsewhere.

(Xinhua 03/06/2001)

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