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Thursday, March 5, 2015, 11:45

Investment, financing systems reform soon

By Xinhua

BEIJING - China will take substantial measures to reform the investment and financing systems, as well as other key areas of the economic system, Premier Li Keqiang said at the opening of the annual parliamentary session.

The number of investment projects required for government reviews will be substantially reduced and some of project reviews will be conducted online, said Li, while delivering a government work report at the Third Session of the National People's Congress.

China will also greatly relax market access for private investment and encourage the use of private capital to set up equity funds, he said.

In particular, it is noted that the country will deepen reform of railway investment and financing by making good use of railway development funds.

As a major attempt to transform government functions, the government promised to extend the list of items no longer required for government reviews or to be delegated to lower-level governments, and to further simplify the process for capital registration, the premier said.

A national unified credit code system and a platform for sharing and exchanging information on credit will be put in place, he said.

Reform priorities will also be given to pricing, where categories of goods and services which are usually priced by the government will be significantly reduced. The government will stop setting prices for most pharmaceuticals, he said.

He also said fiscal reform will focus on increasing budget transparency. As for the taxation reform, efforts will be made to replace business tax with VAT across the board this year.

Notable areas of the financial reform will include promoting the establishment of private banks, building a deposit insurance system, further liberalizing interest rates and keeping the yuan's exchange rate at an appropriate and balanced level.

The country will launch the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect on a trial basis at an appropriate time, the premier said.

To deepen reform in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and assets, China pledged to speed up trials on establishing investment companies and operating companies of state capital, both encouraging and regulating equity investment made by non-state capital in SOE investment projects.

Structural reform of the electricity, oil and natural gas industries will be accelerated, Li said.

The premier also mentioned areas of reform including science, technology, education, culture, medical and health care, pensions, public institutions and housing provident fund in his report.

The Chinese leadership has defined the year of 2015 as a crucial period of time for comprehensively deepening reform, a task illustrated in the concept of "Four Comprehensives" initiated by President Xi Jinping.

The "Four Comprehensives" strategic layout also includes comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society, comprehensively advancing the rule of law and comprehensively strictly governing the Communist Party of China.

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