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Congress 'must' pass stimulus package

CHINA'S 4-trillion-yuan (US$585.5 billion) stimulus package must be approved by the National People's Congress, China's legislature body, Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the annual session of the 11th NPC, said in Beijing yesterday.

"The investment proposed by the central government will be listed on the annual central budget and submitted to the NPC for deliberation and approval," Li told a press conference.

The State Council, or Cabinet, announced a 4-trillion-yuan stimulus package last November to shore up economic growth which had dropped to 9 percent in 2008, the lowest since 2001.

The 4-trillion-yuan package includes 1.18 trillion yuan from the central government over two years and the rest from local governments and the public.

Li said reviewing and approving the economic and social development plan as well as the 2009 central budget was high on the agenda of this year's NPC session.

Li said China would adhere to an active fiscal policy this year to weather the global financial crisis.

The country would expand government investment in 2009, with such investment focusing on infrastructure for agricultural production and in rural areas, and on government-subsidized housing projects, education, medical care and health sectors, he said. The investment would also go to reconstruction projects in earthquake-hit areas, innovation and technological upgrades of enterprises, and the construction of railways, roads, airports and ports, Li added.

He said the government would promote tax reforms and structural tax reductions to ease the tax burden for companies and residents, in a bid to stimulate investment and consumption.

The government would also work to increase incomes of low-income families to spur consumer spending, Li said.

More government money would go to projects that could improve people's livelihoods, such as increasing subsidies for farmers, agricultural production and in rural areas.

The government would also strive to achieve economic restructuring and growth by promoting technological innovation, energy conservation and pollution reduction, Li said.

"To act against the global financial crisis, we should have full confidence to turn challenges into opportunities," he said. "We believe we will succeed."


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