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China Maintains 2013 Growth Target, Lowers Inflation Goal


China kept its growth target for the year unchanged at 7.5 percent, reflecting the country's intention to maintain more moderate growth rather than the double-digit growth rates seen in the past decade as part of government efforts to overhaul its growth model and restructure the economy.

At the same time, the government slashed the inflation target to 3.5 percent from the previous year's 4 percent, pledging to rein in price pressures more decisively. The new figures were published in a government work report prepared by outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao for the country's annual parliament meetings beginning on Tuesday.

China's communist party chief Xi Jinping will officially assume the title of President during the meeting.

Wen, addressing his last Congress as Premier, said the profound impact of the global financial crisis still existed, and the recovery of the world economy is "full of uncertainty and not yet on a stable footing."

China's economic growth eased further to a 13-year low of 7.8 percent in 2012 from the 9.2 percent recorded in 2011 and 10.3 percent in 2010.

The target for broad money supply or M2 growth was set at 13 percent. In the report, Wen said the government will boost spending to support economic growth and the fiscal deficit is estimated to rise to CNY 1.2 trillion, accounting to 2 percent of GDP compared to 1.5 percent in 2012.

He said the government plans to add 9 million urban jobs this year and aims to keep the unemployment rate at or below 4.6 percent.

The report noted that China will continue to implement proactive fiscal policy and maintain prudent monetary policy.

In another report today, the National Development and Reform Commission said the country will target 8 percent growth in trade this year, lower than last year's 10 percent goal.

The retail sales growth target was raised to 14.5 percent from last year's 14 percent target. Sales were up 14.3 percent in 2012. Growth in fixed asset investment is expected to be 18 percent in 2013, the NDRC said.

China also said it would raise military spending by 10.7 percent this year to CNY 740.6 billion. However, the increase in the defense budget was slightly weaker than a 11.2 percent increase in 2012.

Meanwhile, a report from Markit Economics revealed Tuesday that China's service sector growth moderated in February. A report released by the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing on Sunday showed that China's non-manufacturing sector growth eased to a five-month low.

PMI surveys' released on March 1 showed activity in the manufacturing sector has cooled last month.

On Friday, China announced more property measures to cool the property market. The government increased the down payment rate and loan interest rate for second-home buyers in some cities and sought rigorous enforcement of taxes on home sales.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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