(Adds details on judicial reform)
BEIJING, June 6 (Reuters) - China’s President Xi Jinping said on Friday that fiscal reforms were pressing but careful planning was needed, the official Xinhua news agency said, as top leaders met to discuss detailed reform plans.
Fiscal reform is increasingly urgent as the leadership tries to shore up budget management and let central government assume more spending obligations, reducing the need for local governments to borrow heavily or to sell land to raise revenues.
But reforms face opposition from vested interests, especially as government revenues slow, critics say, and so far have been incremental, focusing on cutting red tape, removing barriers for private investors and liberalising markets.
Xi said fiscal reforms involved “difficult adjustments of interests”, but gave no details.
“We must fully understand the importance, urgency, complexity, difficulty in deepening fiscal and tax system reforms,” Xinhua quoted Xi as telling a meeting of the central leading group for deepening reforms.
“We should actively and steadily push forward the reforms,” Xi said, noting that careful preparations and consensus-building were vital for implementing detailed reform plans.
The group was set up this year to steer comprehensive reforms to put the economy on a more sustainable footing, following a major party meeting in November.
Xi said reforms that were “conducive for stabilising growth, adjusting structures, preventing risks and improving people’s livelihood” should be implemented first.
He also pledged to speed up reform of the rigid residence registration, or hukou, system, fully opening up cities for outsiders, opening up medium-sized cities in an orderly fashion but strictly controlling the size of the largest cities.
Beijing has pledged to gradually free up the hukou system to allow millions of migrants to settle in cities and enjoy basic welfare services there to help unleash their spending power.
Friday’s meeting also approved a framework for pilot programmes of judicial reform, a work programme on judicial reform in Shanghai, and a plan to set up special courts on intellectual property rights, Xinhua said, without giving further details.
Xi’s government has shown a willingness to reform China’s court system at a time of public discontent over miscarriages of justice. But experts have said Beijing will ensure that these moves do not threaten the Chinese Communist Party’s overall control.
In his first work report to parliament in March, China’s top judge, Zhou Qiang, said his courts must improve their ability to exercise judicial power independently, admitting to miscarriages of justice and abuse of power by some officers. (Reporting by Kevin Yao; Additional reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Louise Ireland)