Chinese Premier underscores inflation, agriculture

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (R front) waves to people during an inspection tour of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s economic planner, in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 29, 2013.(Xinhua/Zhang Duo)

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday stressed that issues regarding consumer prices should never be underestimated, though the country’s inflation has remained moderate.

China should better address relations between economic growth, structural reform and inflation to keep the economy expanding at a reasonable level, Wen said during an inspection tour of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country’s top economic planner.

He also noted that the country should improve the quality and efficiency of its economic growth, while fending off and defusing financial risks.

China’s consumer prices expanded 2.6 percent year on year in 2012, well below the government’s annual target of keeping inflation under 4 percent.

However, inflation picked up steam in December to grow 2.5 percent, the fastest pace recorded in six months, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Meanwhile, Wen said China should never slacken agricultural production,

urging more policies to strengthen agriculture, benefit farmers, and enrich rural areas.

It took years of efforts for China’s good agricultural situation to come into being, but reversing the trend won’t take a very much long time, he cautioned. The government should make agriculture a top priority of all the work.

Grain production in China had increased for nine consecutive years by 2012. However, the world’s most populous country is also a big importer of many agricultural products, ranging from soy beans to wheat, rice and corn, with total grain imports exceeding 60 million tonnes.

During the tour, Wen also talked about employment, social security and urbanization. He said the government should expand the coverage of health care and pension programs, with special attention paid to migrant workers, retirees from enterprises and allowance recipients in urban ares.

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The Premier summed up by saying that the NDRC should make greater efforts to guide and coordinate major reforms so as to grab the key points of transforming government functions, and take reforms to a deeper level.

Xinhua

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