China: macroeconomic stability in a decentralized economy by World Bank

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Extra info for China: macroeconomic stability in a decentralized economy

Sample text

Over the first half of 1994, the authorities have rightly been urging the state banks to take greater responsibility for their lending to SOEs. The banks appear, as a result, to have become more cautious in extending short-term credit, but meanwhile the enterprises have also begun to suffer from severe working capital shortages. There are no satisfactory short-term solutions, only palliatives. One option that should be considered is to quantify the operating subsidies provided through banks to the most "strategic" enterprises (defined using appropriate criteria) and to fix these subsidies in the budget as an explicit expenditure item.

Over time, expenditure responsibilities must be clearly delineated and the grants scheme readjusted accordingly. This is not a trivial matter and will require national consensus over the division of responsibilities across various levels of government that should be codified in a comprehensive law on intergovernmental fiscal relations. Such a law ought also to accord greater revenue autonomy to local governments. In this regard, besides the introduction of real estate taxes, the authorities could consider allowing local governments to charge a locally determined surcharge on a centrally determined Err, instead of allocating the revenues from the Err according to the ownership of SOEs as is done now.

A new PBC Law is therefore under preparation. The draft Law rightly calls for a more independent PBC. ' However, it appears that no concrete action in this direction is imminent. Moreover, the degree of autonomy to be accorded to PBC is still the subject of debate, and no final decision has been made about the future structure of PBC. Also, the eventual structure of PBC cannot be determined independently of the development, currently underway, of a new payments system, which would lead to a massive reduction in PBC's branches This process is likely to be difficult and there is a real risk that it would be hindered by resistance from PBC personnel and lower level branches.

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