Report on the Work of the Government
Delivered at the Fourth Session of the 12th National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China on March 5, 2016
Li Keqiang Premier of the State Council
On behalf of the State Council, I will now report to you on the work of the government for your deliberation and approval. I invite comments on my report from the members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
I.Review of the work we did in 2015
In the past year, China has encountered many difficulties and challenges in its development. However, under the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) headed by General Secretary Xi Jinping, and with confidence and courage, all the people of China have worked to overcome obstacles and have pressed ahead with a pioneering spirit. As a result, progress has been achieved and stability ensured in economic and social development, the main tasks and targets for the year have been fulfilled, and major achievements have been made in reform, opening up, and socialist modernization.
The economy operated within an appropriate range. GDP reached 67.7 trillion yuan, representing an increase of 6.9% over the previous year-a growth rate faster than that of most other major economies. Food crop production increased for the 12th year in a row. Consumer prices grew slowly. Of particular note, the employment situation overall remained stable, with 13.12 million new urban jobs created over the course of the year, surpassing the year’s target and becoming an economic highlight.
Encouraging progress was made in structural adjustment. The service sector as a proportion of GDP rose to 50.5%, accounting for more than half for the first time. The contribution of consumption toward economic growth reached 66.4%. High-tech industries and equipment manufacturing grew faster than other industries. Energy consumption per unit of GDP fell by 5.6%.
New driving forces for development grew rapidly. Further progress was made in implementing the strategy of innovation-driven development,the penetration of the Internet into all industries picked up pace, and emerging industries grew rapidly. Business startups and innovations by the general public flourished, with the number of newly registered businesses rising by 21.6% in 2015, or an average of 12,000 new businesses per day. New driving forces played a major role in keeping employment stable and pushing ahead industry upgrading, and are now driving profound economic and social change in China.
Living standards improved. Personal per capita disposable income increased by 7.4% in real terms, overtaking the growth rate of the economy. By the end of last year, personal savings deposits had risen by 8.5%, an increase of more than four trillion yuan. In rural areas, another 64.34 million people gained access to safe drinking water and greater alleviation efforts reduced the number of people living in poverty by 14.42 million.
A number of world-class innovations were made in science and technology.Major headway was made in the development of 3G nuclear power technology, China’s self-developed C919 large jetliner rolled off the assembly line, and Tu Youyou was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. These achievements in China’s development, a source of pride and motivation for our people, did not come easily.
They were made in the context of an extremely complicated and challenging international environment. In 2015, world economic growth fell to its lowest rate in six years, growth in international trade slowed, commodity prices plummeted, and there was growing volatility in the global financial market. All this had a direct impact on China’s economy. They were made at the same time as deep-seated domestic problems were becoming prominent and downward pressure on the economy was mounting. While dealing with the slowdown in economic growth, making difficult structural adjustments, and absorbing the effects of previous economic stimulus policies, China was also confronted with many difficult problems and choices in the running of the economy, and this called for effective responses based on the need both to combine long-term and short-term considerations and to seek benefit and avoid harm. Finally, they were made at a time when China’s economic output had exceeded 60 trillion yuan. Every percentage point of GDP growth today is equivalent to 1.5 percentage points of growth five years ago or 2.5 percentage points of growth ten years ago. The larger the economy grows, the greater the difficulty of achieving growth. In the face of these difficulties and pressures, all our people have truly exerted themselves and progressed step by step to get us where we are today. This once again demonstrates that no difficulty or hardship will ever stop China from moving forward.
I will now move on to discuss the main work we did last year:
一是着力稳增长调结构防风险，创新宏观调控方式。为应对持续加大的经济下行压力，我们在区间调控基础上，实施定向调控和相机调控。积极的财政政策注重加力增效，扩大结构性减税范围，实行普遍性降费，盘活财政存量资金。发行地方政府债券置换存量债务3.2万亿元，降低利息负担约2000亿元，减轻了地方政府偿债压力。稳健的货币政策注重松紧适度，多次降息降准，改革存贷比管理，创新货币政策工具，加大对实体经济支持力度。扩大有效投资，设立专项基金，加强水利、城镇棚户区和农村危房改造、中西部铁路和公路等薄弱环节建设。实施重点领域消费促进工程，城乡居民旅游、网购、信息消费等快速增长。去年还积极应对股市、汇市异常波动等金融领域的多种风险挑战，守住了不发生系统性区域性风险的底线，维护了国家经济金融安全。First, we maintained stable growth, made structural adjustments, guarded against risks, and developed new ways of conducting macro regulation. In responding to the mounting downward pressure on the economy, we exercised targeted and well-timed regulation on the basis of range-based regulation. We adopted proactive fiscal policy that focused on increasing intensity and efficacy by expanding the scope of structural tax reductions, reducing fees across the board, and putting dormant budgetary funds to good use. Local government bonds issued to replace outstanding debt reached 3.2 trillion yuan, lessening the interest payment burden of local governments by approximately 200 billion yuan while also reducing their debt repayment pressure. We pursued prudent monetary policy with an appropriate amount of intensity, making several cuts to interest rates and required reserve ratios, reforming management of the loan-to-deposit ratio, creating new monetary policy tools, and increasing support for the real economy. Effective investment increased, special-purpose funds were established, and development was strengthened in areas in need of attention, including water conservancy, rundown urban areas and dilapidated rural housing, and railways and highways in the central and western regions. Consumer spending was promoted in key areas, spurring rapid growth in spending on recreational travel, online shopping, and information goods and services. In 2015, we also responded proactively to a variety of risks and challenges in the financial sector, such as unusual fluctuations in the stock market and the foreign exchange market, ensuring that no systemic or regional threats arose, thus safeguarding China’s economic and financial security.
Second, we intensified reform and opening up to invigorate the market. Rather than adopting strong stimulus policies that would have an economy-wide impact, we continued to move forward with structural reform. We intensified reform to streamline administration, delegate more powers, improve regulation, and provide better services. We delegated the power or cancelled the requirement for government review for 311 items, cancelled the requirement for verification or approval for 123 professional qualifications, and put a complete stop to the practice of non-administrative review. The number of items which require government approval for new businesses prior to registration was cut by 85%, and the system of a separate business license, organization code certificate, and taxation registration certificate was replaced by a unified business license with a unified social credit code. Both operational and post-operational oversight over businesses were strengthened, and public service procedures were improved. Government-related procedures for individuals and businesses were made much simpler, such that enthusiasm for stepping out into business and making innovations is rising by the day.
Fiscal, tax, financial, and other key reforms were deepened. The central government cut, by one third, the number of items for which special transfer payments are permitted, while scaling up its general transfer payments. Steady progress was made in replacing business tax with VAT. Ad valorem taxation was extended to cover more types of resource taxes. The upper limit of the floating band on deposit rates was removed, the deposit insurance system was introduced, and the RMB cross-border payment system was established. Pricing reform was intensified, with the number of central government set prices reduced by 80% and the number of local government set prices cut by more than 50%. We carried out state-owned enterprise (SOE) reforms, rural reforms, and investment and financing reforms, ecological management reforms, and others. Efforts to intensify reform in all respects are beginning to deliver results.
Momentum was created for reform and development through opening up. We worked hard to keep foreign trade stable by adjusting the mechanism for sharing the cost of export tax rebates between the central and local governments, overhauling and regulating charges for imports and exports, increasing trade facilitation, and making changes to the export mix. The number of restrictions on overseas investment in China was cut by 50%, and over 95% of overseas-funded projects may now be undertaken on a simple reporting basis. China utilized US$126.3 billion of overseas investment, an increase of 5.6%. Non-financial outward foreign direct investment reached $118 billion, up 14.7%. Pilot free trade zones were established in Guangdong, Tianjin, and Fujian based on the model of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone. The RMB was included in the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights basket. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was officially inaugurated, and the Silk Road Fund opened for business. China signed free trade agreements with the Republic of Korea and Australia, respectively,and signed the Protocol to Amend the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between China and ASEAN. Progress was made in the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative (the Belt and Road Initiative), the pace of our industrial-capacity cooperation with other countries was stepped up, and breakthroughs were made in China’s export of high-speed railway and nuclear power equipment.