On behalf of the State Council, I would like to present to you the following report on the work of the government for your deliberation and approval. I also welcome comments and suggestions on my report from the members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
I. Review of the Work of the Past Year
Major achievements were made in 2005 in the socialist modernization drive.
—Economic growth was fast yet steady. China's GDP reached 18.23 trillion yuan in 2005, an increase of 9.9% over the previous year. Government revenue exceeded 3 trillion yuan, 523.2 billion more than the previous year. The consumer price index rose by 1.8%. China's economy was in good shape and characterized by fast growth, improved economic returns and stable prices.
—Major steps were taken in reform and opening up. Breakthroughs were achieved in some key areas. China's import and export volume totaled US$ 1.42 trillion, an increase of 23.2%. Total foreign direct investment actually used reached $60.3 billion, and the country's foreign exchange reserves totaled $818.9 billion at the end of 2005.
—Continued progress was made in social programs. Science and technology, education, culture, health, sports and other undertakings developed in an all-round way. The success of the Shenzhou VI manned spaceflight shows that China has reached world-class levels in some key areas of science and technology.
—People's lives continued to improve. A total of 9.7 million urban residents entered the workforce for the first time last year. Urban per capita disposable income rose to 10,493 yuan, an increase of 9.6% after adjusting for inflation, and rural per capita net income grew to 3,255 yuan, an increase of 6.2% after adjusting for inflation.
China took another substantial step forward on the road of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
We adopted a scientific outlook on development to guide China's overall economic and social development last year. We mainly undertook the following tasks.
1. Solving the major problems affecting economic performance. We continued to exercise effective macroeconomic regulation in accordance with the principle of taking different approaches to different situations and encouraging the growth of some sectors while discouraging the expansion of others. We used a combination of fiscal, tax, monetary and land policies to curb overheated growth in fixed asset and real estate investment and ballooning housing prices. In addition, we increased investment in weak links such as agriculture, energy, transport, and social programs to promote balanced development and provide momentum for future development. We improved economic regulation and reduced the pressure on tight supplies of coal, electricity, and petroleum and on the overloaded transportation system, thus ensuring fast yet steady growth of China's economy.
2. Promoting economic restructuring and change of the pattern of economic growth. Work related to agriculture, rural areas and farmers was further intensified. The agricultural tax was rescinded in 28 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government, and the livestock tax was rescinded nationwide. We increased subsidies to grain producers and transfer payments to major grain-producing counties and financially strapped counties, set floor prices for the purchase of key grain varieties in some major grain-producing areas, and increased rural incomes through a variety of channels. Last year, 297.5 billion yuan from the central government budget was spent on agriculture, rural areas and farmers, a year-on-year increase of 34.9 billion yuan. Having risen considerably the previous year, total grain output rose again by 14.54 million tons to 484.01 million tons. The increased overall agricultural capacity, stable increase in grain production and steady increase in rural incomes provide the foundation for ensuring fast yet steady economic development and social stability.
In industrial restructuring, we formulated and implemented development programs and industrial policies for energy, important raw material production, equipment manufacturing and other sectors, and adopted policy measures to encourage development of the wholesale and retail industry. We guided and supported major industries to ensure their sound development and closed down a number of production facilities that had backward equipment, wasted energy, created serious pollution and were unsafe.
We paid particular attention to energy and resource conservation and environmental protection and laid out tasks, policies and measures for building a resource-conserving society and developing a circular economy in order to change the pattern of economic growth. We launched 178 major projects that save energy and water and comprehensively utilize resources. Management of mineral exploration and exploitation, land use, and urban and rural planning was enhanced. Last year, 15.2 billion yuan from the sale of treasury bonds was used to finance key ecological projects undertaken to prevent and control pollution in the basins of the Huai River, Tai Lake and other major rivers and lakes, protect virgin forests, return farmland to forests or grassland, and prevent and control desertification. We launched special projects to address serious environmental problems that were endangering people's health.
3. Deepening economic restructuring and opening China further to the outside world. Trials of comprehensive rural reform were carried forward. Significant progress was made in introducing a shareholding system in state-owned commercial banks and in reforming rural credit cooperatives. Reform of the shareholder structure of listed companies made steady progress. Reform of the mechanism for setting the Renminbi exchange rate was implemented smoothly. Introduction of a modern corporate structure in state-owned enterprises was accelerated. A total of 21.9 billion yuan was allocated by the central government to subsidize the policy-based closure and bankruptcy of 116 state-owned enterprises. The work of relieving enterprises of their obligation to operate social programs continued. Reform in the areas of public finance, tax, investment and pricing was deepened. Reform of the postal service system was initiated. Further progress was made in the reform of the railway and civil aviation systems. Policy measures were adopted to encourage, support and guide the growth of the non-public sector of the economy. Breakthroughs were made in reforms in some major areas.
We actively addressed new issues arising in the course of opening China to the outside world. The structure of foreign trade was improved by adjusting policies concerning export rebates, tariffs and processing trade. The export rebate mechanism was improved. Steady progress was made in opening the service sector to foreign competition. Overall arrangements were made for work after the transition period following China's entry into the WTO.
4. Accelerating the development of social programs. The central government spent 116.8 billion yuan in 2005 on science and technology, education, health and culture, an increase of 18.3% over the previous year. In addition, 9.54 billion yuan from the sale of treasury bonds was spent on these items.
In science and technology, we improved the national innovation system and strengthened basic research and infrastructure development. Important progress was made in major R&D projects, including those to design and develop advanced integrated circuit chips, third-generation mobile communications, high-performance composite materials, and high-grade, digitally controlled machine tools. Under the leadership of the State Council, we formulated the Outline of the National Long- and Medium-Term Program for Scientific and Technological Development based on two years of in-depth research and extensive deliberation during which the views of all concerned parties were solicited.
In education, we focused on strengthening compulsory education, especially in rural areas. Over 7 billion yuan was allocated by the central and local governments to pay tuition and miscellaneous fees, provide free textbooks, and subsidize room and board for 17 million students from poor families in 592 designated poverty-stricken counties. Free textbooks were also provided to over 17 million students from poor families in the central and western regions. As a result, many students who had dropped out of school were able to continue their studies. We continued to implement the plan to make nine-year compulsory education basically universal and to basically eliminate illiteracy among young and middle-aged adults in the western region. We built, renovated or expanded over 2,400 boarding schools in rural areas and provided distance learning equipment for 160,000 rural primary and secondary schools and learning centers over the past two years. Vocational education was further improved, and higher education continued to develop.
In health, we put great effort into improving the public health system and rural health care work. Over the past three years, the central and local governments spent 10.5 billion yuan to basically complete establishment of a disease prevention and control system that operates at the provincial, city and county levels. A total of 16.4 billion yuan was spent on setting up a medical treatment system for public health emergencies, and work is proceeding smoothly. The central government spent 3 billion yuan from the sale of treasury bonds to support the establishment of health clinics in towns and townships in the central and western regions, thus improving public health and medical treatment conditions there. Trials of a new type of rural cooperative medical care system were extended to 671 counties with a total of 177 million rural residents. We intensified efforts to prevent and treat major diseases such as AIDS and gave high priority to the prevention and control of highly pathogenic avian influenza, keeping it from spreading and infecting people. Progress was made in population work and family planning.
In culture, we launched a trial reform of the cultural system, upgraded culture-related facilities for public use, implemented the project to share cultural information, and increased cultural exchanges with other countries. Further successes were achieved in the country's athletic endeavors. Greater efforts were made to promote socialist cultural and ideological progress.
5. Striving to increase employment and improve social security work. We increased policy support and spending to expand employment and reemployment. The central government last year allocated 20.9 billion yuan to provide basic living allowances and reemployment subsidies to employees laid off from state-owned enterprises, 2.9 billion more than the year before. We did a good job providing employment for urban residents newly entering the workforce, college graduates and demobilized soldiers. A special fund was also set up in central government budget to support job training for farm laborers looking for urban employment and to assist demobilized soldiers from urban areas in finding jobs for themselves.
The social security system underwent steady improvement, and its coverage was expanded. The work of incorporating basic living allowances for workers laid off from state-owned enterprises into the unemployment benefit system was completed in 17 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government. All urban residents entitled to basic living allowances are now basically receiving them. Allowances for key entitled groups were increased significantly, and 7.46 billion yuan was allocated from the central government budget for allowances for entitled groups, a 90% increase from the previous year. The basic framework of a social assistance system has been established in 28 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government and in 2,300 counties and cities. Disaster relief and anti-poverty work was intensified. Total expenditures from the central government budget for fighting natural disasters and providing disaster relief came to 8.9 billion yuan last year, and more than 90 million people were helped. The central and local governments allocated 16.2 billion yuan for poverty alleviation, and the number of rural residents living in poverty decreased by 2.45 million.
6. Strengthening democracy and the legal system. Democracy continued to make advances at the local level, and elections for village committees were held in 21 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government. The running of governments, factories and villages was made more transparent. Government decision making was made more scientific and democratic, and a system of public notices and public hearings on matters affecting the interests of the people was instituted. Much effort was put into passing government legislation. The State Council sponsored seven bills, including the revised versions of the Labor Contract Law, the Law Guaranteeing the Rights and Interests of Women, and the Individual Income Tax Law (draft), and 22 administrative regulations were drawn up and promulgated by the State Council, including the Emergency Measures for Handling Major Animal Epidemics and the Special Regulations for Preventing Coalmine Accidents. The State Council formulated and implemented the Master State Plan for Rapid Response to Public Emergencies and plans for managing specific emergencies, thus improving our ability to respond to emergencies. Oversight was strengthened through auditing and supervision. We carried out thorough preparatory work for implementing the Civil Servant Law of the People's Republic of China. The new Regulations on Petitions in the Form of Letters and Visits were implemented, improving people's access to government departments that handle such petitions and ensuring order in submitting and handling them. Steady progress was made in the reform of the judicial system. A campaign to correct irregularities and promote impartiality in law enforcement was launched to safeguard citizens' lawful rights and interests. We continued to improve all facets of public security and severely punished illegal and criminal activities in accordance with the law. The number of criminal cases dropped, and social stability was maintained.
Work related to ethnic groups, religions, overseas Chinese, and Taiwan was further improved. We continued to make progress in the modernization of national defense and the army. Significant progress was made in diplomacy.
We owe these successes to the correct overall leadership of the Central Committee with Comrade Hu Jintao as General Secretary and to the concerted efforts and hard work of government employees and the general public. On behalf of the State Council, I would now like to express our sincere thanks to the people of all ethnic groups, to the democratic parties, to all people's organizations, and to people from all walks of life. I would like to sincerely thank our compatriots from the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and Taiwan, as well as overseas Chinese. I would also like to sincerely thank our friends around the world who care about and support China's modernization drive.
While acknowledging our successes, we must also clearly realize that there are still many difficulties and problems in China's economic and social activities. Many long-standing and deep-seated problems have yet to be fundamentally solved, and a number of new problems have arisen that require our attention. First, it has become difficult to further increase grain production and rural incomes. There is downward pressure on grain prices and upward pressure on the prices of agricultural supplies, making it difficult for farmers to increase their earnings and discouraging them from growing grain. Moreover, the total area of useable farmland continues to decrease, and the overall agricultural production capacity is weak. This poses a threat to the nation's food security. Second, fixed asset investment is still expanding too fast. Investment in some industries is increasing too quickly, and too many new projects have been launched. Investment is too concentrated in some areas, and there is significant pressure for a rebound in investment. Third, the adverse consequences of overheated investment in some industries are becoming apparent. The problem of excess production capacity is getting worse, causing the prices of goods to drop and inventories to increase. Corporate profits are down and losses are increasing, creating greater potential financial risks. Fourth, many problems affecting the vital interests of the people have yet to be satisfactorily solved. There is strong public concern over the difficulty and high cost of getting medical treatment and receiving an education. The people's interests are adversely affected by violations of regulations and policies in a number of areas, including land expropriation, housing demolition and resident relocation, relocation of people from reservoir areas, and corporate restructuring, as well as by environmental protection. Fifth, there are serious problems in production safety. Major coalmine and traffic accidents occur frequently, causing serious loss of life and property.
We are also aware that there are still quite a few defects and shortcomings in the work of governments at all levels. The process of transforming government functions is behind schedule, some tasks have not been adequately carried out, and efficiency is low. The problem of formalism and going through the motions is still fairly serious. Some government employees engage in fraud, some are extravagant and wasteful, and some are even corrupt.
We must heighten our sense of mission and our sense of urgency, build on our achievements, improve our work, boost our morale, work conscientiously, strive to do all government work better, and do our best to live up to people's expectations and prove ourselves worthy of the great trust the country has placed in us.