Caixin
Jan 22, 2019 01:23 PM
OPINION

Editorial: Weathering a Slowing Economy is Not Just About Austerity

A district government building in Chongqing. Photo: Wu Gang/ Caixin
A district government building in Chongqing. Photo: Wu Gang/ Caixin

“Tightening our belts” has become a hot catchphrase for officials from central ministries and local governments. Since the 2008 economic crisis, the term has been looming and fits with the ups and downs of China’s economy. Nowadays, it is mentioned quite frequently — and this significant signal naturally deserves attention.

The mentions of austerity are related to the more-vigorous tax- and fee-reduction measures announced in recent years. But they also relate to increasing downward pressure on China’s economy, the sharp drops in fiscal revenue, and the rigidity of fiscal expenditures. In addition to careful calculations and improvements to the quality and efficiency in the use of funds by governments at all levels, China must fundamentally improve its economic efficiency and the distribution structure of national income so that enterprises and the people can live a better life. In other words, we need a deeper understanding of “tightening our belts.”

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