BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has ordered bureaucrats to implement central government policy more effectively to boost economic growth, even as he noted signs of improvement in some areas.
“We must adopt more powerful measures to consolidate the trend of improvement (in the economy) and withstand the downward pressure (on growth),” Li said.
“We are confident and capable of keeping economic growth within a reasonable range, and meeting the main (economic) targets for this year,” he said in a teleconference speech the government published on Friday.
The economy grew 7 percent in the first quarter of this year, the slowest pace in six years, and April data suggest the economy lost more momentum heading into the second quarter, highlighting the policy challenges facing Beijing.
Li noted, however, that China added 4.45 million new jobs in the first four months of the year, compared with a target of at least 10 million for this year.
He added that a survey-based unemployment rate compiled by the government had retreated in April, and growth in factory output edged up that month.
China’s central bank cut interest rates at the weekend, the third cut in six months, to lower companies’ borrowing costs and boost activity.
The central bank has also lowered banks’ reserve requirement ratios (RRR) twice this year to spur bank lending and economic growth, and relaxed restrictions on home purchases to shore up the ailing property market, which accounts for about 15 percent of the economy.
(Reporting by Judy Hua and Koh Gui Qing; Editing by Eric Meijer)