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'Radical' Stimulus Package on Table

Amid global economic recession, China needs "comprehensive and radical measures" to stimulate the country's economy, which has already started to experience excessive slowdown, instead of the overheating it faced three or four months ago.

Price slumps and massive losses have led to the closure or bankruptcy of firms across a number of industries.

"Only a radical stimulus package" can save the country from excessive slowdown, a senior State Council official told China Daily on condition of anonymity.

"Major economic gauges indicate that we have entered into an excessive economic slowdown and need a radical stimulus package right now," said the official, who is close to the nation's highest decision-makers.

The official said he has already submitted a report to the central government, urging it to implement an "expansive and active fiscal policy" to encourage government spending and investment.

In his report, the official highlighted that:

-- Bigger infrastructure and clean energy projects should be launched;

-- Projects aiming to increase employment should be encouraged;

-- Foreign trade should be stimulated.

To encourage foreign trade, which has long been the country's economic engine, the official said, the government should take bolder steps to implement tax rebates.

"All in all, our priority is to stop excessive slowdown," said the official. "And that's about employment, the livelihoods of millions and social stability."

The official's suggestion is expected to become policy this month or next when China's highest leadership convenes its annual economic and financial conference, at which decisive measures will be announced.

As the global financial economic crisis unfolds, China's real economy has been affected because of a slump in external demand. The Chinese government has already started to respond by announcing it will stimulate domestic demand, especially consumption, to shake off the negative impact.

The official based his suggestion on the rapid decrease in electricity supply in recent months. The electricity supply growth rate fell from 5.1 percent in August to 3.6 percent in September.

"And I am shocked by the October growth rate, which is below zero," said the official. "Which means more closures, bankruptcies and job cuts."

Previous reports indicated that in the iron and steel sector, at least 30 percent of firms have already stopped production. The official said this trend has started to spread to other sectors.

"We have entered into a hard time," said the official. "Without radical remedies, it will become even harder."

(China Daily November 6, 2008)

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