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6.7 Public budgets: The role of local-government financing platforms
In the State Council’s guidelines for economic reform in 2017 leverage ratios of firms were asked to be reduced. The request is related to China’s ongoing attempt to reduce economy-wide leverage.
2.5 Provincial- and municipal-level governments
The plans were announced on April 1 as part of the overall regional integration of Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei (京津冀). The New Area will span the three counties of Xiongxian, Rongcheng, and Anxin in Hebei. Among other things, it will serve as an experiment for sustainable urban development.
Cheng Li and Lucy Xu. “The Rise of State-Owned Enterprise Executives in China’s Provincial Leadership.” February 21, 2017, China-US Focus.
1.4 Utilizing information and data from China
Following a string of events questioning official Chinese economic data, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has announced the establishment of a team to improve reliability of official data. The development has been complemented by increased efforts by the NBS to reform the rules and regulations for collecting statistics for the central government.
2.10.1 Regulation and law-making
2.8 Public finance
In March, the Ministry of Finance presented the budget report for 2016 and the draft for central and local budgets for the fiscal year 2017 at the annual NPC plenary session.
In 2016, the central government raised the ceiling for local government debt by 1.18 trillion CNY. Local government bonds issued to replace outstanding debt reached another record high of 4.9 trillion CNY. The value of such bonds issued over the past two years totaled 8.1 trillion CNY.
In 2017, central government transfer payments to local governments are projected to amount to 5.65 trillion CNY, up 7 percent over 2016. Additional funding is supposed to contribute to equalizing access to basic public services, financial subsidies to poor regions, and investments in helping local governments further strengthen areas of weakness.
At the same occasion, the ministry presented a number of clues for the direction of tax reform in 2017. First of all, the trials to replace business tax with value added tax (VAT) will be expanded to all sectors. Furthermore, the government plans to develop resource taxes, piloting with water resource tax in more areas. Furthermore, they prepare the drafts of the tobacco leaf tax law, the tonnage tax law, and the tax law on farmland used for non-agricultural purposes.
2.6 Special Administrative Regions: Hong Kong and Macau
On March 26, Beijing-backed candidate Carrie Lam was selected by a 1,200-person election committee to become Hong Kong’s new Chief Executive. She received 777 votes. Her main opponent, former finance secretary John Tsang, received only 365 votes. Lam was widely expected to win the race.
2.6.1 Hong Kong’s economic role
Among others, the plans for the enlarged Greater Pearl River Delta Region include infrastructure projects as well as common market standards. Closer integration is supposed to mitigate rivalry between Hong Kong and southern metropolises such as Guangzhou on the one hand while tying the two SARs closer to the mainland on the other.