Report on China's central, local budgets (2012)

5. Progress in Fiscal and Tax Reforms

We continued to improve the structure of transfer payments and increased general transfer payments. We improved the mechanism for ensuring basic funds for county-level governments, and enhanced their ability to provide public services. We carried out the reform to place county finances directly under the management of provincial-level governments in 1,080 counties of 27 provincial-level administrative areas. We improved public finance budgets, made budgets for government-managed funds more detailed, and expanded the coverage of state capital operations budgets and the scope of compiling budgets for social insurance funds on a trial basis. We eliminated all off-budget funds and placed all government revenues under budgetary management. We improved budget management systems, such as departmental budgeting, centralized treasury collection and payment, and government procurement, and carried out performance-based management throughout the course of compiling, implementing and evaluating budgets. We devised a pilot plan for replacing business tax with VAT to promote development of the service sector. We reformed the individual income tax system. We carried out trial reforms to collect property tax on personal homes, and adjusted the business tax policy for selling them. We carried out a nationwide reform to calculate resource taxes on crude oil and natural gas based on their prices, and integrated the resource tax systems on crude oil and natural gas for domestic and overseas-funded enterprises. We increased central government subsidies to reform collectively owned factories operated by SOEs across the country. We supported the reform of state-owned financial institutions and improved performance assessment systems for financial enterprises.

6. Implementation of the NPC Budget Resolution

In accordance with the relevant resolution of the Fourth Session of the Eleventh NPC, as well as the guidelines of the NPC Financial and Economic Affairs Commission, we implemented fiscal and tax policies conducive to transforming the pattern of economic development, worked hard to ensure funding for key areas, strictly implemented budgets, and refined the budget management system and the mechanism for ensuring basic funds for county-level governments. We made fiscal management more scientific and meticulous, strengthened fiscal and tax legislation, carried out work related to enacting the Law on Vehicle and Vessel Tax and revising the Law on Individual Income Tax and Provisional Regulations on Resource Tax, and made steady progress in revising the Budget Law and the Law on Certified Public Accountants and in asset valuation legislation. We made public finance budgets more detailed, and continued to increase the funds for budgetary items available at the beginning of the year. We redoubled efforts to manage the implementation of budgetary expenditure, and implemented budgets more quickly. We conducted inspections of the implementation of major fiscal and tax policies; strengthened oversight of key funds related to maintaining living standards, including those for agriculture, rural areas, farmers, and medical reform; and constantly improved oversight mechanisms that cover all government-managed funds and all stages in the use of public finances. We intensified efforts to bring unauthorized departmental coffers under control, and a permanent mechanism for preventing them from recurring began to take shape. We pushed ahead with the work on releasing central budgets and final accounts to the public, and added subsection-level headings to publicly accessible final accounts. A total of 92 central government departments opened to the public their budget tables, appropriations tables, and final accounts. Public finance budgets at the provincial level were all made accessible to the public, and work was accelerated to release budgets of local government departments and special expenditures of primary-level governments. Relevant departments of the central and local governments released to the public information relating to their spending on official overseas trips, official vehicles, and official hospitality. We standardized management of debts held by financing corporations run by local governments, and reviewed and verified the amounts of their debts. We responded to the NPC Standing Committee's inquiries, reported to it on budget implementation, and put into effect measures to improve implementation on the basis of its response to our report. The State Council reported relevant developments to the Standing Committee.

In general, we successfully implemented the 2011 budgets and made further progress in all aspects of fiscal work. This was the result of scientific decisionmaking and correct leadership of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council; the oversight, guidance, and strong support of the NPC and the CPPCC National Committee; the close collaboration and diligent work of all localities and departments; and the concerted, strenuous efforts of all ethnic groups of the Chinese nation. At the same time, we are also keenly aware of the following difficulties and problems concerning fiscal operations and public finance work: the structure of the tax system needs to be rationalized, and fiscal and tax policies are not playing an adequate role in transforming the pattern of economic development and adjusting income distribution; the system of transfer payments can be improved further, and their structure needs to be optimized; it has become more difficult to restructure government spending, and the task of ensuring and improving living standards is onerous; mechanisms for local governments to borrow money and repay debts are not sound enough, and risks must not be overlooked; and losses and waste in the area of public finance occur from time to time, which calls for improved fiscal management, and government funds need to be used more efficiently. We attach great importance to these problems and will continue to take effective steps to resolve them.

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