Report on the Execution of the Central and Local Budgets for 2016 and on the Central and Local Draft Budgets for 2017
Delivered at the Fifth Session of the Twelfth National People’s Congress on March 5, 2017
Ministry of Finance
The Ministry of Finance has been entrusted by the State Council to submit this Report on the Execution of the Central and Local Budgets for 2016 and on the Central and Local Draft Budgets for 2017 to the present Fifth Session of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) for your deliberation and for comments from the members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
I. Execution of the Central and Local Budgets for 2016
In 2016, we were faced with challenging and complicated environments both in China and abroad. However, under the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) with Xi Jinping at its core, all localities and departments strived for progress while working to keep performance stable, upheld China’s new development philosophy, and focused on supply-side structural reform while seeking an appropriate expansion of aggregate demand. As a result, we achieved steady and sound economic and social development and kicked the 13th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development (2016-2020) off to a good start. Execution of the budgets was satisfactory.
1. Implementation of the NPC resolution on the budgets
Departments of finance improved rule of law awareness in the execution of the budgets, actively performed our functions, and conscientiously implemented the resolution adopted at the Fourth Session of the 12th NPC on the budgets as well as the views given by the NPC Financial and Economic Affairs Commission on the budgets.
– Implementing proactive fiscal policy
Large-scale cuts were made to taxes and fees. In extending trials to replace business tax with VAT to all industries, we carried out trials in the construction, real estate, financial, and consumer service industries, and made the value-added of the new immovable property in all enterprises eligible for VAT deductions. The tax burdens of all industries newly included in the trials were reduced as planned, while other industries already included in these trials and industries originally using VAT also saw a reduction in their tax burdens due to increased business VAT deductions. Over the year, we reduced the tax burden on enterprises across all industries by 573.6 billion yuan.
We further expanded the scope of additional tax deductions for enterprises’ spending on research and development; increased funding for high-technology enterprises; introduced policies on equity-based incentives for innovation and on deferred payment of individual income tax for research and development personnel who have become shareholders through their technology and innovation; and improved tax policies for technology business incubators. We abolished or suspended a number of government-managed funds and consolidated some of these funds, expanded the coverage of exemption from 18 kinds of administrative charges; and urged local governments to overhaul and regulate their administrative charges on enterprises, thereby lessening the financial burden on enterprises and individuals by 46 billion plus yuan.
Reasonable increases were made to government expenditures. The government deficit was appropriately increased primarily to make up for reduced government revenue resulting from reductions in taxes and fees, ensuring funding for government spending. We raised the ceiling for local government debt by 1.18 trillion yuan. Local government bonds issued to replace outstanding debt reached 4.9 trillion yuan. Adding in the 3.2 trillion yuan worth of local government bonds issued in 2015, the value of such bonds issued over the past two years totaled 8.1 trillion yuan. Over the course of the year, local governments have saved approximately 400 billion yuan in interest payments by issuing bonds.
Meanwhile, targeted policies and measures were implemented to address overcapacity, reduce excessive inventory, deleverage, lower costs, and bolster areas of weakness. In funding the resettling of workers laid off from the steel and coal industries as result of overcapacity cuts, we set up funds financed by the central government and promptly allocated appropriations from such funds as subsidies or rewards for restructuring industrial enterprises. We ensured subsidies were provided to address the issue of central government “zombie enterprises.” We adjusted policies on deed transfer tax and business tax in the real estate industry with a view to boosting people’s demand for housing for personal use and second homes and helping reduce commodity housing stock.
We developed clear policies on the swapping and cancellation of debt in debt-to-equity swaps to support market-based swapping of debt owed to banks for company shares. We introduced short-term reductions on social insurance premiums and overhauled guaranty funds relating to enterprises, thereby further lowering the costs of enterprises. We redoubled efforts to strengthen areas of weakness, considerably increased funding for poverty alleviation, and fully supported major tasks such as rebuilding in rundown urban areas and infrastructure development.
– Working for progress in fiscal and tax reforms and legislation
We worked toward extending VAT to cover all goods and services. We continued the reform to apply ad valorem rates to all resource taxes, piloted the reform to introduce the water resource tax, and drove progress in legislation on an environmental protection tax. We developed measures for the management of non-tax government revenue. We issued guidelines on the reform to share fiscal authority and spending responsibilities between the central and local governments, making clear the requirements, the sharing principles, and the main content of the reform. We determined the appropriate ratio for sharing VAT revenue between the central and local governments following the application of VAT in all industries in order to ensure the stability currently enjoyed in the sharing of financial resources continues. We adjusted the methods for central government VAT rebates to local governments, and improved the revenue-sharing fiscal system. We issued and implemented fiscal policies on granting urban residency to people with rural household registration living in urban areas, and introduced related reward mechanisms.
We reformed and improved the system of central government transfer payments to local governments, cutting the number of items receiving special transfer payments from the central government to 94, and raising the proportion of general transfer payments against total transfer payments to 60.6 percent. We stepped up efforts to see that government budgets and final accounts are made available to the public, publishing for the first time a whole package of final accounts of central departments on http://www.gov.cn/and http://www.mof.gov.cn/index.htm and drawing up operating procedures for publicly releasing local budgets and final accounts.
– Working to improve the performance of government funds
We promptly approved the appropriation of government funds in strict accordance with the budgets approved by the NPC. In strengthening budget performance administration, we applied performance target administration to all central department project expenditures, began for the first time to set performance targets and indicators for major projects at the same time as granting budgeted funds, and conducted performance evaluations in relation to expenditures for a portion of major policies on people’s wellbeing and for key special projects. Information on the performance administration and performance evaluation results of some central department budgets were for the first time released to the public along with the final accounts of these departments.
Available government funds were put to work, in accordance with regulations, in pressing areas of economic and social development. We carried out trials to integrate and coordinate the use of government funds for rural development in poor counties, granting these counties the power to allocate and utilize the funds earmarked for such trials. We improved fund management for central government-funded research programs, expanding the authority of colleges and research institutions to manage research funds and expenses on related travel and meetings. We made a big push to expand the use of public-private partnership (PPP) models, and strengthened lifecycle financial regulation of PPP projects to ensure the quality of implementation. At year end 2016, 11,260 projects, with a total investment of 13.5 trillion yuan, were included on the national information platform for multiple PPP models; 1,351 of these projects, representing a total investment of 2.2 trillion yuan, have already been contracted and are in implementation.
We strengthened reform to encourage government procurement of services, and formulated guidelines on supporting the fostering and development of social organizations through government procurement of their services and on carrying out reform to introduce government procurement of services from public institutions. We worked to accelerate the operations of government-invested funds, and encouraged nongovernmental sources to invest.
– Working to prevent risks posed by local government debt
We worked in strict accordance with the Budget Law, the Guarantee Law, and other relevant laws and regulations to take further steps to ensure standards were in place for the management of local government debt. At year end 2016, total outstanding local government debt stood at 15.32 trillion yuan, which was within the limit of 17.19 trillion yuan budgeted for the year. We improved the budgetary management system for general and special local government debt, and incorporated for the first time a full review of local government debt into the draft budgets, thereby proactively subjecting it to oversight.
We carried out risk assessments and provided early warnings on local-government debt risks and reported the results to the relevant authorities and local governments, urging high-risk regions to raise funds through multiple channels so as to defuse their debt risks. We introduced emergency response contingency plans for local government debt risks and guidelines on dealing with risks by type, building up our policy reserve for responding to risks and emergencies.
We issued the Provisional Measures for the Representative Offices of Supervisors from the Ministry of Finance in Localities to Conduct Oversight on Local Government Debt to make oversight regular. We also organized an investigation into illegal local government financing, and urged the regions and financial institutions concerned to rectify this problem in accordance with the law.
– Ensuring budgets were managed in strict accordance with the Budget Law
We made the budgets more detailed, further scaled down the amount of tentative budgets prepared by the Ministry of Finance for other government offices or projects, and worked to ensure all projects were covered by central government department budgets. We cut the number of projects financed by government-managed funds to 23, and introduced a list and catalogue system to manage these projects. We expanded the scope of the central government’s state capital operations budget, and formulated the provisional measures for the management of expenditures from this budget. We conducted a nationwide review of assets owned by administrative agencies and institutions.
We moved forward with the reform to establish a system for comprehensive government financial reporting based on accrual accounting, and issued four sets of regulations concerning government accounting principles including principles on fixed assets. We organized inspections on the implementation of subsidies for the use of new-energy vehicles, the disclosure of local budgets and final accounts, and the operations of government procurement agencies. During the inspections, we investigated and exposed a number of cases of violations of the Budget Law and financial and economic discipline and held those responsible to account.
In 2016, the Ministry of Finance improved its services for the deputies to the NPC and members of the CPPCC National Committee. We dealt conscientiously with their suggestions and proposals, handling over the course of the year a total of 2,889 suggestions made by deputies and 1,323 proposals by members. We did more to improve communication with the deputies and members, soliciting and taking on board their opinions and suggestions in order to improve public finance work.