China today lowered its growth target to 6.5 per cent for this year as the world’s second largest economy reeled under continued economic slowdown which last year slipped to below 7 per cent, the lowest in 26 years.
China’s economy, which grew 6.9 per cent last year, was within “an appropriate range,” Premier Li Keqiang said in his work report for this year submitted to the annual session of parliament, the National People’s Congress, which opened here today.
Last year, the world’s second largest economy grew by 67.7 trillion yuan in 2015.
In dollar terms, however, it is about USD 10.4 trillion, marginally above the over USD 10 trillion in 2014 due to steady depreciation of the Chinese currency against US dollar.
Presenting his report to over 2,200 lawmakers of the NPC which is often described as the rubber stamp parliament for its routine approval of the decisions of the ruling Communist Party of China, Li said the Chinese economic growth is faster than that of most of other major economies in the world.
He said the target for this is set at 6.5 per cent to 7 per cent.
The growth in the 13th five year plan to be implemented from this year is set at 6.5 per cent as average for the next five years.
President Xi Jinping earlier directed officials to ensure that the GDP should not go below 6.5 per cent amid fears that the slowing down economy may be heading for hard landing.
Li said that in 2015, China’s grain production grew for the 12th year in a row. Consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, increased 1.4 per cent year on year, a six-year low and well below the official 3-per cent target.
Amid reports that five to six million workers faced layoffs due to the economic slowdown, Li’s report said the employment situation is stable.
Officials said over 1.8 millions workers faced retrenchment in the coal and steel sectors along.
The 2.3-million strong military too announced three lakh troop cut this year.
“Of particular note, the employment situation overall remained stable, with 13.12 million new urban jobs created in 2015, surpassing the year’ s target and becoming an economic highlight,” Li said in his work report.
He said that despite the slowdown his government has successfully fulfilled all the main tasks and targets set out in an economic and social development road-map for the 2011-2015 period.
The NPC session which was opened with lot of fanfare with number of members from ethnic minorities turning up in colourful dresses is covered by over 3,500 journalists including over 1,000 foreign journalists.