Imperative tasks ahead

Updated: 2012-03-06 08:14

(China Daily)

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Premier Wen Jiabao's report on government work to deputies of the national legislature and members of the political advisory body has struck a chord in and out of Beijing's Great Hall of the People because of its no-nonsense approach.

But his modest review of past achievements, some of which are more than praiseworthy on such an occasion, displays the government's awareness of the difficulty of sustaining them.

That Wen did not give too much prominence to the initial successes his cabinet has achieved in reining in commodity prices and cooling the once sizzling real estate market was illustrative of this. The general public, on the other hand, is likely to be more enthusiastic about the government's successful performance on those two fronts last year.

Until very recently, there had been mounting speculation that the attempts to bring down property prices would be in vain. But the current state of the real estate market has enhanced the general belief that if the government really wants something to be done, it can be done.

Given Wen's famous remark that "confidence is more precious than gold" and people's rising expectations, it is no surprise that his report should seek to inspire confidence in attaining quality growth. The continuously widening coverage of basic medical insurance and social security services, as well as the substantially raised national poverty line, have encouraged higher hopes about what the government has to offer.

That the national target of gross domestic product growth for 2012 is set at 7.5 percent, the lowest since 2005, is the result of external and internal pressures, as Premier Wen noted in his report. But this is in line with the national leadership's preference for quality growth. And a slowdown would provide the opportunity for addressing the structural contradictions as well as the imbalance, disharmony and unsustainability that Wen referred to in his report.

The entanglements between long-term and short-term problems, structural and periodical factors, and domestic and international issues, which Wen listed, will surely add to the administration's difficulties in delivering what it has committed to.

But Wen's vow to present a satisfying answer-sheet in his cabinet's last year in office assures us that the most imperative tasks will not be shelved. This is of great significance because many of these tasks brook no foot-dragging. The failure to reach the national goal for emissions reduction, for instance, reminds us of the difficulty in translating words into actions.

Compared with such concrete goals as creating new jobs, stabilizing the CPI and boosting exports, dealing with vested interests and introducing fairness-oriented reforms will prove thorny.

This will take time. But the fulfillment of many of the reform-related tasks identified in the report calls for headway in that direction.

(China Daily 03/06/2012 page9)