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Wen 'confident' on growth

CHINA has the ability to achieve its economic growth target of 8 percent this year if it follows the proper course, Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday.

"As long as we adopt the right policies and appropriate measures and implement them effectively, we will be able to achieve this target," Wen said.

China's economy cooled to a seven-year low of 9 percent last year and broke a five-year streak of double-digit expansion.

Wen said the goal was proposed based on China's needs and abilities.

"In China, a developing country with a population of 1.3 billion, maintaining a certain growth rate for the economy is essential for expanding employment for both urban and rural residents, increasing people's incomes and ensuring social stability," Wen said.

"We are fully confident that we will overcome the difficulties, and we have the conditions and ability to do so."

The premier also acknowledged the country is facing "unprecedented difficulties and challenges."

"The global financial crisis continues to spread and get worse."

The last time the country was confronted with such a major challenge was the Asian financial crisis of 1998, when China's economy expanded only 7.8 percent.

Not everyone is as optimistic as Wen, however. Some analysts are forecasting growth as low as 5 percent.

China's economy tailed off to 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter last year, the worst in nine years.

To achieve the growth target this year, Wen said China will implement a "proactive fiscal policy" and a "moderately easy monetary policy."

The government said it will increase its spending and expect banks to issue 5 trillion yuan (US$731 billion) in new loans.

Yang Yuqing, an NPC deputy, said the 8 percent target, against the global financial turmoil, demonstrates the "confidence of the government in dealing with the crisis."


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