China could see rate cuts, not stimulus: Officials
Updated 05:45 PM Jun 14, 2012
BEIJING - The Chinese government is more likely to implement further reforms or cuts in interest rates and reserve ratios, rather than launching an expensive new stimulus plan, current and former officials told a conference on Thursday.
Two more interest rate cuts and three more reserve ratio (RRR) cuts were possible before the end of the year, said Mr Cao Wenlian, the former deputy director of the finance department at the National Development and Reform Commission.
But China does not need another stimulus package like the one in 2008, which super-charged growth but left local governments saddled with debt, he added.
Instead, recently-announced "fine-tuning" policies are enough to ensure growth in an economy that is already bottoming out this quarter, said Mr Cao, who is now deputy secretary general of the China Centre for International Economic Exchange (CCIEE), a government think tank.
Former Chinese officials and members of government-backed think tanks often play an advisory role on current policies, and are often briefed on decisions or internal policy debates. CCIEE is considered one of the top think-tanks in the capital.
Mr Cao's view was echoed by Mr He Keng, deputy head of the finance and economics committee at the National People's Congress Standing Committee, China's rubber-stamp parliament.
"The second quarter will be the hardest period and data will turn better in the third and fourth quarter with full-year growth no less than 8 per cent," he said, adding that risks in the property market, high local government debts and rampant underground lending were more dangerous to the economy than the current short-term slowdown.
China could risk a rebound in home prices two years from now if new home constructions, which have fallen in the past three months, kept declining and eventually led to short supply, said Mr Fan Jianping, a senior researcher from the State Information Centre, another top government think tank.
In the meantime, while curbing speculation through existing tightening policies, China should cut land prices and lower lending rates to encourage construction of homes for ordinary residents, Mr Fan said.
Beijing could announce reforms meant to put more income in the hands of households in the second half, after a parliamentary standing committee meeting later this month, Mr He Keng said. China's rubber-stamp legislature only meets in full once a year, but standing committees have a greater role in setting policy.
China's leaders, galvanised by poor economic data in April and May, announced a raft of reforms meant to tap private investment for infrastructure projects and allow more flexibility in the banking system and currency trading.
The Central Bank lowered interest rates last week for the first time since the 2008/2009 financial crisis. REUTERS
Publish date: 15/06/12