China’s move to speed spending seen a sign of growth concerns


Chinese authorities are stepping up efforts to ward off a sharper economic slowdown, analysts said after Beijing called on local governments to speed up their spending over the next month to boost activity.

The finance ministry said on Wednesday that local governments risked losing 2014 budget funds not allocated by the end of June and that spending on some projects could be front loaded to help boost the economy.

The move to accelerate, but not increase, spending follows other steps to underpin the economy after a run of weaker-than-expected data this year raised concerns growth could miss the official forecast for the first time in 15 years.

“There is increasing evidence that Premier Li Keqiang is probably more serious about the 7.5 percent growth target than hoped by those who have wanted the government to tolerate lower growth,” analysts at Barclays Capital said in a research note.

Premier Li has said it did not matter if growth was a little below that target. Last week, he said there were relatively big pressures on growth and policy needed to be fine-tuned.

The ministry reiterated that money for key projects must be paid in a timely manner. Some of pressures on the economy stem from sluggish budget spending this year, analysts say.

“We must also realise that the current situation we are facing at home and abroad is still complicated and the downward pressure on the economic growth still exists, so we must not underestimate certain difficulties,” the finance ministry said.

China’s leaders have ruled out any big fiscal stimulus, saying they are committed to structural reforms intended to shift the economy to slower, more sustainable growth.

But they have called for fine-tuning of policy and taken targeted support measures, such as tax cuts for smaller firms and quickening spending on railways and public housing.

“It reinforces our view that policy easing has started to pick up in the second quarter, the size of easing is becoming significant from a macro perspective, and there will likely be more easing measures in the second half if property investment growth slows further,” Nomura’s China chief economist Zhiwei Zhang said.

A Reuters poll shows analysts expect annual GDP growth to slow to 7.3 percent in the second quarter from an 18-month low of 7.4 percent in the first quarter. They expect full-year growth of 7.3 percent in 2014, the weakest in 24 years.


The ministry reiterated that money for key projects must be paid in a timely manner. Some of pressures on the economy stem from sluggish budget spending this year, analysts say.

“In our view, though the Ministry of Finance is not calling for increasing fiscal spending, merely speeding up delayed fiscal spending will be positive to growth and should be welcomed by the markets,” Ting Lu, China economist at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong.

Fiscal revenues of 4.8 trillion yuan ($767.3 billion) in the first four months of 2014 exceeded expenditures of 4.0 trillion yuan, finance ministry data shows. The government is aiming for a fiscal deficit equivalent to 2.1 percent of GDP this year.

Peng Wensheng, chief economist at CICC, said in a research note that the ministry’s action reduced the chance of a near-term cut in banks’ reserve requirement ratios (RRR), as the central bank was cautious about using the “high-profile” tool.

In contrast, Xu Gao, chief economist at Everbright Securities, said chances were quite high for a cut in the RRR to help bring down elevated borrowing costs for corporates.

Source from : Reuters