China state planner aims for ‘good start’ for economy in Q1 , Latest Business News - The New Paper

China state planner aims for ‘good start’ for economy in Q1

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BEIJING: China will aim to achieve "a good start" in the first quarter for the economy, the state planner said yesterday, signalling more supportive measures to come as the world's second-biggest economy slows further.

China will strengthen monitoring of its economic situation and improve its "reserve" of economic policies, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement.

Premier Li Keqiang said China achieved its key 2018 economic targets, which were "hard-worn", and seeks a strong start to the economy in the first quarter to establish conditions helpful to meeting this year's goals, according to state television on Monday.

Sources told Reuters last week that Beijing was planning to lower its growth target to 6 to 6.5 per cent this year after an expected 6.6 per cent last year, the slowest pace in 28 years.

The proposed target, to be unveiled at the annual parliamentary session in March, was endorsed by top leaders at the annual closed-door Central Economic Work Conference in mid-December, the sources told Reuters.

Annual growth of about 6.2 per cent is needed this year and in 2020 to meet the ruling Communist Party's longstanding goal of doubling gross domestic product and incomes in the decade to 2020, and to turn China into a "modestly prosperous" nation.

China has lowered the level of reserves that commercial banks need to set aside for the fifth time in a year, to spur lending, particularly to small and medium-sized firms.

Beijing has also cut taxes and fees, and stepped up infrastructure investment to shore up the economy.

This year, China will step up fiscal expenditure and implement larger tax and fee cuts. The cuts will focus on reducing burdens for small firms and manufacturers, the finance ministry said in a statement yesterday.

The central bank, in a separate statement, said it will maintain prudent monetary policy, keeping it neither too tight nor too loose, and strengthen the counter-cyclical adjustments.

Monetary policy will be made more forward-looking, flexible and targeted, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said. - REUTERS