Economist hopes GDP growth will slow down

By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-30 07:16

China will tighten the macro-economic control measures to slow down its gross domestic product (GDP) growth this year, a top economic planner said yesterday.

The country will, however, continue giving priority to the development of rural economy and building a new socialist countryside.

The country's GDP grew by 10.7 percent to reach 20.94 trillion yuan ($2.68 trillion) last year, the fastest growth in 11 years.

Though National Development and Reform Commission secretary-general Han Yongwen hoped the GDP growth would be slower this year, he didn't project a figure. Usually, the National People's Congress does that at its March session each year.

Han told a press conference that despite last year's impressive growth, some problems had begun to show. "The most serious being excessive increase in investment, too much loans and the huge foreign trade surplus."

Han conceded that there was a "gap" in China's goal of cutting energy consumption and pollutants discharge last year. The country has a goal to cut its energy consumption by 20 percent per unit GDP and key pollutants discharge by 10 percent by 2010.

The final figures, especially data from local governments, are still being collected, but the country has flunked its first green test, Han said.

"Though the energy consumption showed a decreasing trend in the third quarter of last year, China was still some distance from reaching last year's goal of reducing energy consumption by 4 percent."

An imbalanced economic growth pattern that relies excessively on high-energy consumption and heavy-polluting industries to drive up the GDP combined with poor energy conservation technologies are the causes of the failure, he said.

NDRC's economic operation department Vice-Director Zhu Hongren said China was still facing challenges in its efforts to meet this year's energy-reduction goal. And the situation could worsen if the imbalanced development of light and heavy industries was not reversed.

Backward production technology and high-energy consumption still plague a large number of the country's industries, he said. About 100 million tons of iron and steel products are made in poor environment. Some power plants that emit pollutants are still operating to meet the demand for electricity.

"Also, this year, part of the regions will get electricity. So we must be alert against a possible resurgence high-energy consuming industries," Zhu said.

(China Daily 01/30/2007 page3)

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