NPC Deputy Proposes East-West Disparity Monitoring System

"It is necessary to set up a complete monitoring system to keep track of the regional disparities between the eastern and western parts of the country," said Li Fashen, president of the Lanzhou University.

During a group discussion of the current annual NPC session in Beijing yesterday, the university president said that the increase of investments in the western part of the country does not necessarily mean that the regional disparities are sure to narrow.

In working out policies for western China development, the state must base itself on non-interrupted statistics on the east-west gap, covering a complete range of figures from GDP down to the income of a professor, Li said. Otherwise, the policies for supporting western China development would not achieve the objective of effectively narrowing the regional disparities or at least contrast indices will be lacking in judging the policy effectiveness.

"The monitoring system is especially important for education in the western region," Li said. Making a detailed comparison of the level of input in higher education in Gansu Province in recent years with the average national level, this university president said that the gross enrollment rate for the country as a whole is 11 percent, but it is only 6.7 percent in Gansu.

"We used to make vertical comparisons and therefore feel that the gap is narrowing," he said. "But when we come to horizontal comparison, the absolute gap is widening steadily."

"A complete monitoring system is conducive to improving the current policies and regulations," Li pointed out.

He cited spending on education, saying that the proportion of budgetary spending on education in GDP in the five provinces and autonomous regions of Shaanxi, Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai and Xinjiang in Northwest China is all higher than the national level. However, due to small base figure, the absolute investment is still quite small, a far cry for the requirements of national economic and social development. This should be factored into policy decision making with regard to investment in education in the western region.

Besides, in determining the local matching funds for central investment, the state should take the GDP disparity into account and reduce the proportion for the western part of the country. There should be no universal standard for all parts of the country, Li stressed.

( 03/11/2001)