CHINA> National
Premier Wen seeks prompt response
By Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-11-11 07:08

Premier Wen Jiabao Monday urged local governments not to "waste a single minute" in implementing the 4-trillion-yuan ($586 billion) stimulus plan unveiled on Sunday.

"In expanding investment, we must be fast, effective and forceful. We must focus on priorities and adopt a down-to-earth attitude to implement the measures," he told an executive meeting, which was presided by him and attended by provincial leaders and Cabinet ministers.

Stock investors monitor the market changes at a securities office in Fuyang, Anhui Province Nocember 10, 2008. The Shanghai stock index rose 7.27% at the government's massive economic stimulus plan. [CFP]

The country's top agenda is to achieve "steady and relatively fast" economic growth and prevent "economic ups and downs" amid global and domestic economic challenges, Wen said.

"We are confident, and capable, of overcoming the current difficulties," he said.

The government on Sunday announced it would spend $586 billion over the next two years to finance projects in 10 major sectors, such as low-income housing, rural infrastructure, roads, airports, water, electricity, the environment and technological innovation.

"The country should strengthen management of large-scale investment projects, conduct feasibility studies and increase investment efficiency and profits," Wen said in a statement.

He said the stimulus package was crucial to tiding over current difficulties and maintaining long-term growth momentum. It is also meant to help bolster global growth by boosting Chinese investment and consumer spending.

A man cycles past a construction site in the central business district in Beijing, China, Monday, Nov. 10, 2008. China announced a 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package Sunday to boost government spending on roads, airports and other infrastructure and bigger subsidies to the poor and farmers. [Agencies]

"Fast and stable economic development is not only our development need but also our biggest contribution to the world," he said.

Saying the government would play a leading role in fighting against the economic slowdown and the impact of the international financial crisis, Wen asked "various fronts", especially the private sector, to join the efforts.

In growing signs of a slowdown, the growth of electricity supply and demand dropped from 5.1 percent in August to negative in Octorber. In the iron and steel sector, at least 30 percent of firms have reportedly stopped production, and this trend has started to spread to other sectors.

Other points Wen made at the meeting include:

promoting stable and healthy development of the real estate sector, which plays a large role in the economy and can spur such sectors as iron and steel, and cement production.

increasing competitiveness, especially of medium- and small-sized enterprises.

increasing people's incomes and expanding domestic consumption.

raising tax rebates to help export-oriented companies, which have been severely hit by the financial crisis.

Wen also said implementing the stimulus plan offers an opportunity to push forward the long-waited revision of oil and natural gas prices by linking them with global markets. But he did not set a timetable for the move.