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New 5-year plan promises gains for ordinary people


Updated: 2016-03-14 22:30:26


BEIJING -- Having delivered stellar growth for China for more than three decades, ordinary Chinese are set to get their reward in the next five years as the government prioritizes improving their lives.

The draft 13th Five Year Plan (2016-2020) being reviewed at the National People's Congress (NPC) annual session places more emphasis on the prosperity of China's nearly 1.4 billion people. It is high time that growth is translated into benefits for the masses rather than fortunes for a few.

Improving livelihoods is high on authorities' reform agenda. Measures listed in the latest five-year plan range from eradicating poverty to making people healthier to improving education and adding more jobs.

Ahead of the national parliamentary sessions, President Xi Jinping said that the success of future reforms should be assessed on the gain they bring to ordinary people.

"From now on, it will be mostly about the quality, efficiency and benefits of growth, rather than its speed." said Pan Jianhua, an NPC deputy.

Both central and local governments will evaluate reforms based on how much of a difference they make to people's lives, Pan added.

The top leadership sees the next five year as a crucial period for the target of establishing a "moderately prosperous society," a situation that would greatly swell the consuming class.

Their aspiration for a middle-class lifestyle will lead the world's second-largest economy to a more consumer-driven growth model.

China is aiming to double both the size of its economy and more importantly, per capita income by 2020 from 2010 levels. Another ambitious goal is to lift all of its people above the poverty line, set at an annual income of 2,300 yuan ($354) for rural residents.

Under that overarching goal, per capita disposable income should increase no less than 6.5 percent.

Another way to boost income among the broad population is to improve the fairness of income distribution and tax reforms.

Underpinning all this is stable employment. The government has set a target of adding 50 million new jobs in the coming five years to make that happen.

Authorities are willing to live with a slower rate of economic growth as long as employment climbs steadily. Despite continued downward pressure on the economy, whose growth hit a 25-year low of 6.9 percent last year, new job creation continues to overshoot the government target.

The importance of jobs is on the rise, not only in terms of their number but their quality, as authorities want to derive growth chiefly from improved labor productivity, rather than more credit.

Labor productivity currently stands at 87,000 yuan per person. The target is 120,000 by 2020.

Under the plan, the next five years will also see a sprouting of small cities, especially in the northwest. This urbanization drive will allow 100 million rural Chinese to settle in cities, rather than cramming into the massive urban sprawl on the affluent east coast, where migrants generally work menial jobs and are denied urban welfare such as medical services and education for their children.

That will increase the share of Chinese with urban residents' permits, or "hukou," to 45 percent. Authorities will also press ahead with shanty-town renovation to improve living conditions and also as part of a more aggressive government spending program to counter the economic slowdown.