Shang­hai low­ers 2015 GDP growth

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By LI YANG in Shang­hai liyang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

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