Spurring economic growth amid the bleak global scenario is the top priority for this year's session of the country's top political advisory body which opens today, the conference's spokesman said Monday.
"Economic issues are at the top of members' agenda, and to cope with the global financial crisis, the government should make every effort to maintain relatively fast and stable economic development and ensure that the 8 percent GDP growth target is achievable," said Zhao Qizheng, who spoke at a press conference of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
Zhao Qizheng, spokesman for the second session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, answers questions during a news briefing as the advisory body's information office director Zhang Jing'an points to a journalist, March 2, 2009. [Yang Shizhong/China Daily]
The second session of the 11th National Committee of the CPPCC will last until March 12 and coincides with that of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, which opens on Thursday.
The CPPCC secretariat had received 265 proposals and 307 statements by the political advisors as of yesterday afternoon, with 2,235 members expected to attend this year's session, Zhao said.
"Most members agree that the country should adopt further measures to propel domestic demand and stimulate consumption," Zhao said.
To that effect, Zhao said CPPCC representatives are keen to see how the country's $586 billion economic stimulus package is used.
"Political advisors believe the use of the money should be efficient and effective, and for the benefit and livelihood of the people," he said.
The advisors believe funds will be released in different stages, and thus the effect and benefits will not be seen immediately, Zhao said.
The amount of money spent under the stimulus package, and on what it is spent, has attracted wide attention since it was announced last November.
Mu Hong, vice-minister in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planning agency, said on Sunday that the commission would release spending details on its website, www.ndrc.gov.cn, and accept enquiries from the public.
As for expanding domestic demand to counter the global economic downturn and falling exports, Zhao said it was "not an easy task" as Chinese people are traditionally not inclined to spending.
A press conference of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC ) briefs reporters on this year's session in Beijing, March 2, 2009. [Xinhua]
Analysts welcomed the renewed focus on the economy but said more needs to be done.
"The government's proactive fiscal policy and moderately easy monetary policy to deal with the economic slowdown are showing positive results, but any economic recovery will take time to be fully seen," said Jia Kang, director of the research institute for fiscal science affiliated to the Ministry of Finance.
"If there is no obvious recovery starting from the second quarter, the authorities should take more forceful monetary steps to push for firmer results in the second half of the year," Jia, also a CPPCC member, told China Daily.
Zhao Xijun, deputy dean of the school of finance of Renmin University of China, said: "Any further measures taken by the government to address the current challenges should also consider the global economic situation and the specific circumstances of provinces and regions."
Border trade, employment and the rural-urban development divide are also high on the agenda of political advisors, Zhao said.
During the CPPCC session, members will discuss the government work report to be submitted by Premier Wen Jiabao as well as the work reports of the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate.