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Premier stresses careful study of economic trends

Updated: Apr 24,2020 08:54 PM

The government must analyze and judge the trends of economic development truthfully and scientifically, enhance macro policy adjustment and expand reform and opening-up, Premier Li Keqiang said at a symposium on April 23.

Premier Li made the remarks in a video call with six provincial-level heads during which he sought their opinions and suggestions on the current economic situation and future trends based on economic indicators in the first quarter released on April 17.

"The sudden epidemic outbreak has dealt an unprecedented blow to China’s economy. In the face of the crisis, standing firm and stabilizing fundamentals can buy time to help us overcome it and secure the future of the Chinese economy," Premier Li said.

A solid analytical foundation

Analyzing and judging economic trends in a truthful and scientific manner is the basis and precondition for rolling out more targeted macro control policies, the Premier said.

Chiefs of the provinces of Jilin, Jiangsu, Henan, Guangdong and Sichuan, as well as Shanghai municipality, reported local economic performance and follow-up plans. The reports revealed the impact of COVID-19 on the economy was wide in the first quarter, ranging from eastern, middle and western regions to Northeast China.

The unexpected epidemic is a huge challenge to China and the whole world, but through concerted effort by the 1.4 billion Chinese people, the anti-virus fight on the Chinese mainland has yielded hard-won results in the current stage, the Premier said.

Despite social and economic order resuming at a faster pace as the epidemic has been largely controlled on the mainland, China still faces significant uncertainties over socioeconomic growth given a complicated international landscape as a result of the rampant disease, Premier Li noted, requiring local governments to take a truthful, objective and scientific attitude toward analyzing and judging economic trends.

Such attitudes will be helpful to precisely set the scale and timing of stronger macro policy adjustment in the next step, he added.

Stronger macro policies

Faced with the severe impact of the epidemic, Premier Li required intensified macro policies to guarantee residential employment, people’s basic livelihoods, market entities, security of grains and energy, stability of industrial and supply chains and operations at grassroots levels to stabilize employment, finance, foreign trade, foreign investment, domestic investment and market expectations.

In the current situation, he said, safeguarding the former six areas is the bottom line, and the stability of the latter six areas is the final goal.

Among the former six parts, he emphasized residential employment, people’s basic livelihoods and market entities.

He added micro, small, medium-sized and private businesses, the anchors of employment, have been hit hardest by the epidemic.

To help enterprises, especially smaller ones, get through the present difficulties, local authorities should strengthen support through reducing or exempting taxes and fees, providing financial assistance and lowering costs.

Continue reform and opening-up

To maintain a dynamic economy relies on the endogenous power of every individual and every market entity, stressed Premier Li. He pointed out it requires further reforms streamlining administration, delegating power, improving regulations and upgrading services to optimize the business environment, further energize market entities and boost social creativity.

He took local government special debt as an example, saying even this should adopt a market-oriented approach and follow commercial rules.

"Government debt is money borrowed from the future. We have to let the market play the decisive role in allocating resources and make the government perform more effectively if we plan to take full advantage of the money," the Premier said. "In the spirit of being responsible for history, we must spend the money wisely."

He added the priority of foreign trade is to maintain the industrial and supply chains so as to stabilize foreign capital and foreign trade. However, it must be made clear that without greater reform and opening-up, foreign capital and foreign trade will not be stable.

"At present, it is necessary to strengthen macroeconomic adjustments to offset the adverse influence of the epidemic on the economy. It can both help enterprises tide over the current difficulties and meet the country’s long-term interests," the Premier said.

Amid increased global uncertainty, domestic challenges are still quite serious. As a result further reform and opening-up should be carried out in such time of trials, Premier Li said, adding the greatest potential and driving force of China’s development are reform and opening-up, whether taking place during the past, present or future.

By unleashing the greatest potential and driving force of reform and opening-up, China can firmly stabilize the fundamentals of its economy, ensure the victory of the fight against poverty and be able to build a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way, Premier Li added.