[SHANGHAI] China faces a tough challenge to meet annual budget targets, the official People's Daily newspaper reported late on Wednesday, citing finance minister Lou Jiwei, as the country ramps up spending to cushion a broader economic slowdown.
China's fiscal expenditures rose 13.6 per cent in the first five months of the year, far outstripping the 8.3 per cent rise in fiscal revenue. Expenditures in May soared 17.6 per cent from a year earlier.
"From current conditions, it's hard to be optimistic about national fiscal revenues going forward," the state-run newspaper cited Mr Lou as saying at an event in Beijing. "Meeting full-year budget targets will require a lot of hard work."
Beijing has pledged to ramp up fiscal support this year, widening the fiscal deficit to 3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), from 2.3 per cent in 2015, after economic growth last year cooled to a 25-year low. Fiscal revenue could also be hit by slowing economic growth and tax cuts.
Mr Lou added China's economy was generally stable and within a reasonable range, although downward pressure on it was still relatively large, the newspaper said.