Stabilizing measures sought for economy

Updated: Feb 18, 2019 By Wang Yanfei China Daily Print
A panoramic view at sunrise of the Bund along the Huangpu River in Puxi and the Lujiazui Financial District in Pudong with high-rise buildings in Shanghai, Aug 20, 2018. [Photo/IC]

Experts calling for increased efforts to support employment, help curb risks

China should make renewed efforts to keep the economy afloat as the nation faces growing downward pressure, according to leading economists.

At the annual Chinese Economists 50 Forum on Saturday, experts called for increased measures to realize key economic 2019 goals set by the government.

These include stabilizing employment, the financial sector, trade, domestic investment and market confidence.

National Economic Research Institute Director Fan Gang said China should step up efforts to implement supply-side reform and stabilize the economy, given that investment-driven growth remains insufficient.

Short-term measures are needed to maintain stable development, and more effort should be made on the demand side, including moves to adjust money supply and interest rates, he said. Such efforts should not, however, include massive stimulus plans or repeat other measures used in 2009 to revive the economy, Fan said.

The call comes at a time when the market awaits government policy signals as challenges persist, even as many adjustments have been made as the nation moves toward more balanced growth.

The Chinese economy last year registered a GDP growth of 6.6 percent, the slowest pace since 1990.

China's fixed-asset investment rose 5.9 percent last year, missing market expectations, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

While some progress has been achieved in China's deleveraging moves, economists said more efforts are needed to curb risks in the financial sector as corporate bonds and local government debts account for a big percentage of total debts.

Lu Lei, deputy director of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, said China should pay more attention to the risks of piling up debt in the private sector at a time when external pressure might exacerbate existing challenges, referring to the risks of narrowing the spread between Chinese and US interest rates and Sino-US trade frictions.

To tackle the challenges of local government debt, Li Yang, chairman of the National Finance and Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China could learn from Japan's experience and establish financial institutions to provide cheap, long-term financing, particularly for local governments.

The government has taken measures to curb downward pressure by ensuing proper credit growth and has pledged to roll out measures to cut taxes and support the private sector.

Aggregate social financing reached 4.64 trillion yuan ($690 billion) in January, according to the People's Bank of China.

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