China leaders to set policy, reform priorities for 2014

China leaders to set policy, reform priorities for 2014

BEIJING - China's leaders are expected to gather at a closed-door meeting next week to set policy and reform priorities for 2014, sources with government think tanks said, following a party meeting that laid out a bold reform agenda for the next decade.

The annual Central Economic Work Conference will bring together top party leaders, ministers and provincial officials to discuss economic targets, including the rate of economic growth, inflation and money supply for the year ahead.

Analysts and investors expect the government to spell out detailed reform plans for next year, after a plenum of the Communist Party's Central Committee charted the course of sweeping economic and social changes.

Top leaders are likely to held a meeting around the same time on urbanization to issue detailed plans on how to proceed with the much debated programme without fanning a renewed local spending frenzy, according to the sources.

The sources said the leadership is expected to maintain a "prudent" monetary policy in 2014 - the catch word since late 2010 that has encapsulated at first modest policy tightening and then modest loosening following the global financial crisis.

Top government think tanks, which make policy proposals for the leadership, are still locked in a debate over whether the government should cut its annual economic growth target to 7 per cent in 2014 from this year's 7.5 per cent.

The State Information Centre and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences have proposed a cut, arguing a lowering growth target will be help Beijing focus more on reforms and discourage local governments from pursuing high growth rates.

"We've suggested the growth target should be cut to 7 per cent in 2014," Zhu Baoliang, chief economist at the State Information Centre in Beijing, told Reuters.

Zhu expects China's economy to grow an annual 7.6 per cent in 2014, while inflation could be 3.2 per cent.

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