Li says GDP target flexible, stresses employment
Last Updated: 2014-03-13 11:38 | Xinhua
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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks at a press conference after the closing meeting of the second annual session of China's 12th National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 13, 2014. (Xinhua/Chen Jianli)

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday said there is a level of flexibility for the government's growth target at around 7.5 percent this year, stressing rather the importance of creating enough jobs.

"We are not preoccupied with GDP growth. The growth that we want is one that brings real benefits to the people, helps raise the quality and efficiency of economic development, and contributes to energy conservation and environment protection," Li stressed when asked on the lowest growth rate that the government can live with.

Li's elaboration came after the government announced last week that the country will target an unchanged growth of around 7.5 percent in 2014.

It also vowed to keep inflation at around 3.5 percent and create 10 million more urban jobs to ensure the registered urban unemployment rate does not rise above 4.6 percent.

At the conference, Li underscored the importance of a proper growth to deliver enough urban jobs while leaving room for the six to seven million migrant workers to seek employment in cities.

China's economy grew 7.7 percent last year, well above the government goal, but a set of data that pointed to softening manufacturing activity in recent months has renewed concerns on the growth outlook of the world's second largest economy.

In response to the concerns, Li emphasized that China's economy has "tremendous potential and resilience", and the country has the ability and conditions to keep its economic operation within a proper range.

The premier noted a spate of complex challenges for this year, including enhancing the quality and efficiency of economic development, tackling pollution and saving energy.

"So we need to strike a proper balance amidst all these goals and objectives. This is not going to be easy," Li acknowledged.

"We need to face up to the difficulties and challenges and make the most of the favorable conditions. This holds the secret of our success," he said, citing a Chinese proverb that "only a sharpened axe can cut through firewood."

Although China's 7.5 percent growth target is the same as previous years, its importance is fading as many believe the government will no longer view the figure as the necessary minimum as it usually did in the past.

Senior leaders and officials have on various occasions backed up the macro-economic control strategy featuring the idea of "a proper range," -- a lower limit to ensure steady growth and job creation and an upper limit to avert inflation, which was first proposed by Li in July.

Finance minister Lou Jiwei joined the chorus last Thursday, calling for more comprehensive understanding on the country's growth target instead of merely fixating on the 7.5-percent figure.

GDP growth, inflation and employment are all key factors that should be taken into consideration when assessing economic conditions, Lou told a press conference, adding that a growth of 7.3 percent or 7.2 percent can still be counted within that range.

Fiscal, tax, financial reforms high on agenda

Fiscal, tax and financial reforms had been set as a priority on the country's overall reform agenda in 2014.

"In the course of comprehensively deepening reform, we certainly need to be focused on key reforms and initiatives and we need to see breakthroughs in key areas," Li said.

"We will press ahead with fiscal, tax and financial reforms as our priorities this year." >>>More

China's debt risk within control

Citing an official audit of government debts last year, Premier Li Keqiang said the country's debt-to-GDP ratio is still below the internationally recognized warning line.

"We will establish a standard financing mechanism for local governments to issue bonds and place local government debt under budgetary management," Li said. >>>More

Job creation is main focus of stimulus

Employment was Premier Li's primary concern when considering whether or not to roll out stimulus measures.

The main consideration for setting the 7.5 percent GDP growth target this year was "to ensure employment, improve people's lives and increase urban and rural income," Li said. >>>More

Key market role in streamlining administration

Premier Li Keqiang vowed to let the market play a decisive role amid the government's efforts to streamline administrative procedures.

The number of newly registered businesses increased by 27.6 percent in 2013. Of these, private business registrations increased by 30 percent, the highest in more than a decade, Li said on Thursday during a media conference. >>>More

Timetable set to regulate shadow banking

"Concerning financial risks such as shadow banking, we are tightening regulation and have set a timetable for implementing the regulative measures under the Basel III accord," Li said.

Basel III is a global, voluntary regulatory standard on bank capital adequacy, stress testing and market liquidity risk. >>>More

China, EU trade disputes can be solved

China and the European Union (EU) can work out a solution to their trade disputes through mutual respect and proper consultations, said Premier Li Keqiang.

"As long as the two sides respect each other and engage in proper consultations, problems can be solved," Li said, citing last year's trade dispute case of photovoltaic products as a successful example.

Trade disputes are individual cases and account for a small percentage in the two-way trade, he added. >>>More

China stresses fight against pollution

Polluters, which harm both nature and human health, will be severely punished, said Li, when responding to a question about smog that frequently blanketed Beijing and some other major cities since winter.

Watchdogs which turn a blind eye to polluting activities and fail to perform their duties will be held accountable, Li added. >>>More

China to curb housing speculation

China will take a differential approach to regulate the housing market, and curb speculation and investment-oriented purchases, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said.

A long-term mechanism will be built to ensure steady and sound growth of the housing market, the premier said. >>>More


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