December 11, 2015 / 10:12 AM / 4 years ago

Local governments in northeast China are inflating economic data: Xinhua

BEIJING (Reuters) - Reported levels of economic growth in parts of China’s northeast are inflated, the official news agency reported.

A clerk counts 100 Chinese yuan banknotes at a branch of China Merchants Bank in Hefei, Anhui province, April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

China’s northeastern rust belt has been hit with job losses in recent years, due to its reliance on polluting businesses such as steel making and mining, which are being scaled back.

But local governments continued to inflate data about their finances and economic growth, Xinhua said, with one county in Liaoning province reporting extra fiscal revenue of 847 million yuan ($131.28 million) in 2013, 127 percent higher than the real figure.

Economic indicators - including the gross domestic production(GDP) growth rate, investment, residents’ incomes, consumption and trade figures - were reported as higher than they actually were, according to some local officials in the northeastern provinces, Xinhua said.

“Relevant government departments have performed checks which reveal some investment figures are overinflated by at least 20 percent,” said Guan Yingmin, head of the investment and planning department at the Heilongjiang’s Committee of Industry and Information Technology, was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

China’s provinces and regions frequently report economic growth much larger than national levels, causing doubts about the way data is compiled in China.

Premier Li Keqiang said last week that China was on track to reach its economic growth target of about 7 percent for the full year, but some China watchers believe real growth levels may be much lower than official data suggest.

Despite the yuan being included in the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Special Drawin Rights (SDR) basket earlier this month, some economists suspect big data flaws remain in both local and national GDP figures.

“If inflated data isn’t about tricking the country, then it’s about tricking the people,” said Sun Yiming, the deputy director of Liaoning’s Anshan Municipal Commission of Economy and Information Technology, according to Xinhua.

“And it’s definitely about individual gain.”

Reporting by Sue-Lin Wong and Xiaoyi Shao; Editing by Kim Coghill

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