The Daily Mail, Pakistan
Country remains committed to poverty eradication plan
By Li Nan  ·  2020-07-02  ·   Source: Daily Mail

There are several new things about the 2020 Report on the Work of the Government that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivered at the Third Session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, on May 22.

Due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, the session had been postponed by more than two months and the report had been revised several times to adapt to the changing landscape. With its length slashed by half, it became the shortest of its kind and probably the most modified one in the past four decades. However, it carried no less weight.

While it mentioned no specific GDP growth target due to the global uncertainties caused by the virus, it highlighted the major measures to be taken to cope with the new situations and upcoming challenges. Employment, keeping enterprises afloat, poverty alleviation and unsurprisingly, COVID-19 prevention and control, were the buzzwords in the report.

Jobs over GDP

The government has set no specific target for economic growth this year. "This is because our country will face more factors that are difficult to predict in its development due to the great uncertainties regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the world economic and trade environment," the premier said at the session.Last year, China's GDP reached 99.1 trillion yuan ($13.8 trillion), representing a 6.1 percent increase over the previous year, according to the report. However, the COVID-19 outbreak dealt a heavy blow to China’s economy, which contracted by 6.8 percent year on year in the first quarter, the first decline since 1992, when the official quarterly growth data was first released.

But although there is no specific goal for economic growth, employment remains a highlight, Liu Shijin, Deputy Director of the economic committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the top political advisory body, said in an online interview. The word jiuye, or employment, was mentioned 39 times in the report.

Liu said setting no economic growth target is both due to the special reasons and an attempt to explore new ways for development. "If the employment rate reaches an appropriate level or stable employment can be ensured, from the perspective of the economy it means that social resources would be fully used," he said.

Wen Bin, chief economist with China Minsheng Bank (CMB), told Beijing Review that stabilizing employment is a priority task for the government this year as the epidemic has led to fewer new urban jobs during the past months compared with the corresponding period last year. According to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, 2.29 million urban jobs were created in the first quarter this year, shrinking by 950,000 year on year.

This year, China aims to create over 9 million new urban jobs, keep the surveyed urban unemployment rate at around 6 percent, and the registered urban unemployment rate at around 5.5 percent.Michael Zakkour, founder and CEO of 5 New Digital, a business consultancy, echoed Wen. Keeping employment close to the pre-crisis levels and boosting consumption are two major priorities for the Chinese economy to come out of the COVID-19 crisis, he told Beijing Review. The need is "to get everybody back to work", he said, "which means everybody has paychecks coming in regularly, and hopefully, that's going to lead to increased consumption."
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