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Economic, social tasks for 2004 set
Updated: 2004-03-06 11:24

Ma Kai, minister in charge of the State Development and Reform Commission. [Xinhua]
China has set a target of creating 9 million new urban jobs, and putting the pedal on breakneck investment to curb its annual consumer price index rise within 3 percent in 2004.

To augment Premier Wen Jiabao's government work report to the National People's Congress on Friday, State Council's minister of development and reform commission Ma Kai told deputies on Saturday that it is necessary to maintain a minimum economic growth rate of 7 percent this year, as compared to last year's staggering 9.1%, in order to keep the urban registered jobless rate below 5 percent.

As alarm bells ring big that the world's sixth largest economy may already witness signs of inflation, Minister Ma Kai said that the administration will rein on over-extended loan issuance and put cool water on some overheated sectors, including steel, cement and real estate. CPI (consumer price index), a major gauge of an economy's inflation level, rose less than 2 percent last year.

Outlining other economic targets, Ma said China would work to "perfect the exchange rate mechanism" of the yuan while keeping the currency at a ``rational and balanced level''.

China, the world's fifth largest trading power, also trimmed its 2004 foreign trade growth rate to 8 percent. Last year, China's exports jumped nearly 35 percent. Imports soared almost 40 percent. Trade, a main engine leading the huge populous country's economic growth, has kept rising at double digits for many years. 

The official jobless rate would be about 4.7 percent. That compares to 4.3 percent last year and would be the latest in a series of rises.

Listed tasks:

-- Economic growth rate: around 7 percent;

-- New jobs for 9 million urban residents;

-- Urban registered unemployment rate: 4.7 percent;

-- CPI growth rate: around 3 percent;

-- Foreign trade growth rate: 8 percent;

-- Growth of farmers' per-capita net income: 5 percent;

-- Grain output: 455 billion kilograms;

-- Issue of long-term treasury bonds: 110 billion yuan;

-- Total budgetary revenue: 2.357 trillion yuan;

-- Total budgetary expenditure: 2.6768 trillion yuan;

-- Central budget deficit: 319.8 billion yuan;

-- Natural population growth rate: within 7 per thousand; and

-- College enrollment: 4 million undergraduates, 330,000 postgraduate students.

(One US dollar = 8.277 yuan)

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