CHINA / National

Hu calls for efforts to rein in economic boom
Updated: 2006-07-25 09:16

President Hu Jintao called Monday for more efforts to control sizzling economic growth and spread the benefits of China's boom to the poor, state media reported.

Hu's public appeal reflected mounting official urgency about the twin challenges of managing China's surging growth and assuaging public anger at a growing gap between rich and poor.

The president called for faster reforms and more effective economic controls at a meeting of Communist Party leaders and prominent figures outside the party, the Xinhua News Agency and state television said.

In keeping with those concerns, the leadership announced that its annual Central Committee meeting will take place in October and focus on spreading wealth to the millions left behind by reforms that have enriched an urban elite.

Hu rarely speaks out on economic issues, so his comments underscore the leadership's dilemma about the galloping economy. They want the economy to grow fast enough to help reduce poverty while reining in a boom in construction and bank lending that they worry could spin out of control, setting off inflation and financial problems.

The government must "control the scale of investment" in the second half of this year, Hu said, after economic growth soared to 11.3 percent in the second quarter, its highest rate in a decade.

Hu didn't mention any new initiatives. The government has already tightened lending rules for banks and barred building of villas and other luxury projects outright. Despite that, the number of new construction projects soared by 22.2 percent in the first half. Economists expect Beijing to raise interest rates for a second time this year.
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