China omits GDP goal for first time ever to help save coronavirus-ravaged economy

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China omitted a 2020 economic growth target for the first time and pledged government support for the economy in Premier Li Keqiang’s work report on Friday, launching the country’s annual parliament meeting.

It is the first time that China has not set a target for gross domestic product (GDP) since the government began publishing such goals in 1990.

The world’s second-biggest economy contracted 6.8% in the first quarter from a year earlier, shrinking for the first time in decades, as the outbreak of the new coronavirus, which started in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, paralysed production and hit spending.

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Ahead of the National People’s Congress, the week-long meeting of the largely rubber-stamp parliament, China’s top leaders have promised to step up stimulus to bolster the virus-ravaged economy amid rising worries that job losses could threaten social stability.

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China is targeting a 2020 budget deficit of at least 3.6% of GDP, above last year’s 2.8%, and fixed the quota on local-government special bond issuance at 3.75 trillion yuan ($527 billion), up from 2.15 trillion yuan, according to Li’s report.

China will also issue 1 trillion yuan in special treasury bonds for the first time this year.

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