China’s government spending surged four times the pace of revenue growth in October, highlighting policy makers’ determination to meet this years’ growth target as a manufacturing and property investment slowdown weigh on the economy.
Fiscal spending jumped 36.1 percent from a year earlier to 1.35 trillion yuan ($210 billion), while fiscal revenue rose 8.7 percent to 1.44 trillion yuan, the Finance Ministry said Thursday. In the first ten months of the year, spending advanced 18.1 percent and revenue increased 7.7 percent.
China is turning to increased fiscal outlays as monetary easing, a relaxation on local government financing, and an expansion of policy banks’ capacity to lend, struggle to stabilize growth in the nation’s waning economic engines. Meantime, government revenue has been strained as companies face overcapacity, factory-gate deflation and the slowest annual economic growth in a quarter century.
"With downward economic pressure and structural tax and fee cuts, fiscal revenue will face considerable difficulties in the next two months," the Ministry of Finance said in the statement. "As revenue growth slows, fiscal expenditure has clearly been expedited to ensure that all key spending is completed."
The stepped-up stimulus effort had taken the fiscal-deficit-to-gross-domestic-product ratio to a six-year high by the end of September, according to an October report by Morgan Stanley analysts led by Sun Junwei in Hong Kong. "The central government has been taking the lead in fiscal easing to support growth" as local governments’ off budget spending through financing vehicles have slowed, the analysts wrote.
The country plans to raise the quota for regional authorities to swap high-yielding debt for municipal bonds by as much as 25 percent, according to people familiar with the matter. The quota of the bond-swap program will be increased to as much as 3.8 trillion yuan to 4 trillion yuan for 2015, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the move hasn’t been made public. Increases have been made throughout the year from an originally announced 1 trillion yuan.
China’s economy grew 6.9 percent in the three months through September from a year earlier, the slowest quarterly increase since the start of 2009. For the full year, growth is set to be the slowest since 1990.
Top leaders have signaled that they won’t tolerate a sharp slowdown in coming years. President Xi Jinping said last week that average annual growth should be no less than 6.5 percent in the next five years to realize the nation’s goal to double 2010 GDP and per capita income by 2020.