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China's top legislature hears fiscal budget, socioeconomic development reports

(Xinhua)

13:14, August 26, 2011

Wu Bangguo (C), chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), presides over a meeting of the chairman and vice-chairpersons of the NPC Standing Committee in Beijing, capital of China, Aug. 25, 2011. (Xinhua/Fan Rujun)

BEIJING, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, on Thursday heard government reports regarding fiscal budget and economic and social development plans that were implemented at the beginning of this year.

Xie Xuren, the Minister of Finance, said that in the first seven months of this year, the nation's fiscal income totaled 6.67 trillion yuan, or 74.4 percent of the government's full-year target. Fiscal income in the first seven months rose 30.5 percent year-on-year.

Fiscal expenditures during the period reached 5.14 trillion yuan, or 51.3 percent of the government's full-year spending budget. Spending in the first seven months rose 29.7 percent year-on-year.

In the first half of the year, the government spent over 245 billion yuan (about 38 billion U.S. dollars) on health care, representing an increase of 61.4 percent year-on-year.

Xie said the ministry will continue to implement a proactive fiscal policy and give more support to the improvement of people's livelihoods.

The ministry will also urge local authorities to enhance debt management and strengthen fiscal management.

Zhang Ping, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, also gave a report on the implementation of the nation's economic and social development plans.

Zhang said that since the beginning of this year, China has taken a series of measures to cool rising prices. These measures included introducing a prudent monetary policy, boosting supply and containing irrational demand while establishing a price control mechanism.

"The efforts we made to cool prices are gradually taking effect," Zhang told the NPC Standing Committee.

"However, it may be difficult to keep consumer price index (CPI) growth below the government's target this year," he said.

The government set its annual inflation rate control target at approximately 4 percent for the year.

The CPI, a main gauge of inflation, rose 5.5 percent in the first seven months of this year. In July, the index jumped to a 37-month high of 6.5 percent, well above the government's target ceiling.

Zhang expects the country's price level to remain high due to the pressures of global liquidity, imported inflation, a rise in domestic production costs, temporary shortages of some types of agricultural products and natural disasters.

He added that the pressures and risks China faces could lift inflationary expectations and make meeting the price control target difficult.

Zhang also said the government will work to stabilize price levels and continue to regulate the property market to prevent housing prices from increasing too quickly. It will also seek to boost domestic demand, promote economic restructuring and encourage energy-saving and emission reduction.

A total of 153 NPC Standing Committee members attended Thursday's meeting, which was also attended by top legislator Wu Bangguo.

Also on Thursday, legislators heard reports concerning reviews of explanations of legal statements in the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region (HKSAR).

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