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Discrepancy seen in GDP data

2014-11-05 10:31 Global Times Web Editor: Qin Dexing

Local govts post higher growth figures

The combined GDP of China's 29 provincial-level regions, which as of Monday had all reported their GDP statistics for the first three quarters, reached 46.85 trillion yuan ($7.66 trillion), higher than the central government's national figure of 41.99 trillion yuan for the period, news portal chinanews.com reported on Tuesday.

The national figure is for the whole country, but the regional figure - which does not include Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region and Northwest China's Gansu Province - was still 11.6 percent higher than the national one, according to the Global Times' calculations.

Based on chinanews.com's report, among the 29 provincial-level regions across the country, 21 local governments including Tianjin Municipality and Southwest China's Guizhou Province posted year-on-year economic growth for the first three quarters that was faster than the average figure released by the central government of 7.4 percent.

Seven local governments, including Beijing and Shanghai, reported economic growth lower than 7.4 percent in the period.

Only Zhejiang Province posted a growth figure consistent with the national average of 7.4 percent in the first three quarters.

China's GDP increased by 7.3 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). It marked the slowest level of growth in nearly six years, indicating that the economy still faces downward pressure, analysts said.

The data reported by provincial-level governments appears to be more optimistic than the national figure, but this does not necessarily mean that local governments inflated the numbers to impress the central government, Zhou Shaopeng, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The discrepancy could be because investments made by cross-regional companies have been included in calculations by more than one local government, Zhou said.

Investment by trans-regional enterprises is likely to be included in GDP data both by the local government in the province where the investment comes from and in the one where it goes to, Zhou noted.

Since 1985, the central and local governments have calculated GDP data separately, and there have always been discrepancies between the regional figure and the national figure.

But amid the downward pressure on China's economy, it's possible that local governments might want to interfere with the statistics to make the figures look better, Zhou said.

Based on the current accounting methods, there is some flexibility for local governments, such as how to count the income of farmers from selling agricultural products.

A new rule released by the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on December 6 said that growth of GDP should not be the only criteria for selection and appointment of officials.

After the release of the new rule, the discrepancy between the local and central GDP figures fell to 3.7 percent in the first quarter this year, but the difference gradually expanded in the ensuing months, the Economic Information Daily reported on Tuesday.

GDP growth may have a lesser role in selection and appointment of officials after the new rule, but it's still an important measurement, Tian Yun, editor-in-chief of the China Macroeconomic Information Network website under the China Society of Macroeconomics, a government think tank, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Reform in the field of selection and appointment of officials should continue, and more criteria involving environmental damage and pollution should be introduced, Tian said.

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