Policy makers weigh milder 2005 targets
Economic policy-makers yesterday started a two-day discussion to decide next year's national targets for economic and social development.
The Ministry of National Development and Reform Commission came up with suggested indicators for economic growth, job creation, consumer prices and grain growth.
A mild slowdown of China's gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected in 2005, though the commission refused to unveil the figures, which will be decided by an annual session of National People's Congress (NPC) in March.
Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan required policy-makers to give full consideration to sustainable development of the economy, resources utilization and environmental protection in the new year.
Cao Yushu, commission spokesman, the most powerful cabinet department in charge of social and economic development, said a couple of days ago the economy will stay in the fast-growth track next year, though the growth rate should decline moderately compared to this year.
Economists say the central government may set a target lower than 8 per cent for next year to encourage local governments and investors to pay close attention to efficiency and profit, instead of just the scale of their investments.
The situation is similar last year.
Last December, Ma's commission set a target of 7 per cent economic growth for this year -- down from 2003's rate of 9.1 per cent. However, China's GDP rose by 9.5 per cent in the first three quarters of the year.
Economists said the mild target is aimed at curbing excessive growth in some sectors, which are putting a strain on transportation and power supplies, driving up the prices of raw materials and damaging industries across the country.
Lin Yueqin, a researcher with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily that the government should take more enhanced steps to cultivate a so-called "scientific approach'' to social development.
But Liu Guoguang, senior economist with Lin's academy said China needs a relatively longer circle of rapid economic development.
"So far, our economy as a whole is not overheated but investment needs a soft landing," said Liu, who insists that a higher growth rate can help solve China's problems such as poverty, education and the need for a social security system.
Sources with the commission quoting Ma also reiterated a full commitment to taking a "resources-saving'' approach to keeping China's economy steaming.
"Various resources are limited for China. That's the challenge we must face during the whole process of industrialization,'' Ma was quoted as saying.
He suggested a more massive campaign should be organized to promote awareness of resource shortages among the public and government officials.