Cut your powers, premier urges officials

Updated: 2014-04-02 07:26

By Zhao Yinan (China Daily)

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Premier Li Keqiang told his colleagues in the central government on Tuesday to "pluck up the courage" to reduce their own power as China looks to cut red tape to unleash potential growth.

His comments came as concerns mount among global investors over the nation's fast-cooling economy, highlighted by economic data for the first two months.

Although the official Purchasing Managers Index rose slightly to 50.3 in March, the figure is unlikely to dispel concerns that the world's second-largest economy faced a slowdown in the first quarter.

"China can stabilize its economy as long as the market is allowed to play its role and public innovation is being respected," Li said. He cited the example of last year when the country managed to overcome a slowdown and lack of liquidity in the middle of the year without an easing policy.

Addressing delegates to the annual work conference of the central government's Party committee in Beijing, the premier again assured the market of his confidence and urged government officials to retain the determination to reform.

"To a large extent, such reform has to start from ourselves," he said.

Calling on government officials to believe in the huge potential of public innovation and to strive to "unshackle any fetters" that may have hedged such innovation, Li promised to continue cutting red tape to unleash more economic impetus.

During a provincial fact-finding trip last week, he promised to take seriously the increasing pressure on economic growth and to introduce effective policies, but did not specify whether the government is planning a stimulus package to address the downward pressure.

It is the first time in five years that a premier has given a speech to delegates during the annual work conference of the central government's Party committee.

During the meeting, Li also stressed that power must be supervised, the rule of law must be followed and clean government built.

Last year, the State Council scrapped or delegated to local authorities 416 items requiring administrative approval. This is usually red tape that can limit the business activities of companies that fail to obtain official approval on a particular issue.

The central government will cut another 200 items this year.

The number of newly registered enterprises increased by 27.6 percent last year, and nearly one-third of the new enterprises are private companies, the highest proportion in a decade.

Wang Yuanzhi, director-general of the All-China Private Enterprises Federation, said the simplification of enterprise registration has given great incentives to private investors, with private investment accounting for nearly two-thirds of total investment last year.