Shanghai lowers 2015 GDP growth
Shanghai’s economic and social development objectives in 2015 are to stabilize economic growth, transform the economic structure, improve the quality and efficiency of growth and keep public revenue on pace with economic growth, says the municipal government’s annual work report released last weekend.
For the first time, the government did not make GDP growth an objective in the report, becoming the first local government to do so.
Excessive pursuit of annual GDP growth by local governments has caused many problems, with the degradation of ecology and fighting pollution the most serious.
China’s economic growth slowed to 7.4 percent last year, the lowest since 1990. Analysts don’t think the slowdown represents the beginning of a crisis, but, rather, a result of the country’s restructuring reform and economic transformation.
Despite the slowdown, the country created 13 million new jobs, kept consumer-price inflation within 2 percent, and increased per capita disposable income by 8 percent.
The central government requires local governments to make innovation and consumption the main driving forces for quality economic growth, as well as paying more attention to good governance and better serve the people and businesses’ real needs.
As the most developed city in China, Shanghai sets a good example as the first local government to deemphasize the importance of GDP growth. Shanghai Party chief Han Zheng said during his interview with the Financial Times last November that he was more concerned with environmental statistics than GDP data.
At a government press conference on Jan 24, Shanghai Mayor Yang Xiong said: “We do not care that much about GDP, compared with the reform of Shanghai Free Trade Zone as well as its influence on the improvement of service functions, and the concentration of the functional agencies in the city.”
Pudong district and Jing’an district governments also deleted GDP growth from their economic goals for this year, and vowed to focus more on improving the quality of economic growth and the efficiency of economic functions.
According to the central government, Shanghai’s main duty is to deepen reform in the FTZ and build the city into an economic, financial, trade and shipping center for the world. GDP growth is no longer a big concern for the government.
Shanghai’s economic growth has remained at or a little above the national average in the past few years, and its per capita GDP was about $16,000 last year, the highest among major Chinese cities, except those prospering on oil and coal.
You Minjian, a member of the city’s people’s political consultative conference, and the top political advisory body for Shanghai’s government, said: “It is right to omit GDP growth in Shanghai government’s major to-do list. Economic growth is only one part of the government’s job. The government should care more about citizens’ safety, comfort and happiness.”
Other members of the conference said eliminating GDP growth from the work list does not mean the economy is not important for the city; it means the government should pay more attention to restructuring the economy than purely pursuing faster growth.
“Shanghai kept its growth while transforming the growth model last year, and improved the public good while enhancing its growth quality,” Sun Jianping, Party chief of Jiang’an district, said, adding that the government will continue to balance and coordinate the needs of the economy, society and environment in economic development this year.
The government report said it will keep the city’s registered unemployment rate within 4.5 percent, ensure input in environmental protection at about 3 percent of the city’s overall production, and investment in technological innovation will account for about 3.6 percent of the city’s overall production, markedly higher than the national average ratio of about 2 percent.
Serving the migrant workers’