China says faster economic reforms needed

BEIJING Sun May 18, 2014 2:25am EDT

A Chinese national flag is seen in front of a chimney of a heat supply plant in Beijing May 13, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

A Chinese national flag is seen in front of a chimney of a heat supply plant in Beijing May 13, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China will try to quicken the pace of economic reform this year as part of the government's efforts to arrest a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy, the country's top economic planning agency said late on Saturday.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) reaffirmed nine reform priorities for 2014, including deepening reforms in the power and the oil and gas industries and cutting red tape for investment approvals, according to a statement on its website, www.ndrc.gov.cn

"Not only for reform draft planning, but also to solve the risks and problems of the current economy, we all need to try boldly to quicken the reform," the NDRC said in the statement after a two-day meeting on economic reform.

The statement followed a batch of economic data that showed across-the-board weaknesses in China's economy, sparking new calls for Beijing to ease policies to shore up growth.

China adopted last November a reform blueprint for the rest of the decade. So far Beijing has chosen a steady and gradual way to carry out the plan.

The regulator also said China will push forward price reforms for resource products and speed up urbanization-related reforms to allow more people to live in cities.

It reiterated it would speed up efforts on liberalization of interest rates and exchange rates and quicken reforms on property taxes and consumption taxes.

(Reporting By Xiaoyi Shao and Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Matt Driskill)

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