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中国经济体制改革还没到庆祝的时候

裴敏欣 2013年05月30日

一些观察人士认为,从中国最近公布的经济体制改革重点来看,中国会大刀阔斧地进行新一轮改革。不过作者认为现在庆祝还是为时过早。一方面,发改委目前公布的改革方案还缺乏具体的实施细则,另一方面,改革一定会受到既得利益团体的阻挠,改革的具体成效还有待观察。

    一直期盼中国新一届领导班子颁布经济改革方案的人终于在上周等到了好消息。此前新任总理李克强在国务院机构职能转变动员电视电话会议上强调,中国将进一步转变政府职能,激发市场主体发展活力和创造力。

    更为重要的是,国务院批转了国家改革和发展委员会(National Development and Reform Commission,简称:发改委)起草的《关于2013年深化经济体制改革重点工作的意见》(简称:《意见》)。发改委是国务院下属的经济发展规划机构。

    从发改委制定的2013年经济体制改革任务清单可以看出中国新一届领导人的改革雄心。《意见》涉及一系列的改革任务。其中最为重要的改革计划包括:简政放权,减少投资项目审批事项;财税体制改革,重点包括扩大营业税改征增值税试点范围,扩大个人住房房产税改革试点范围等;金融体制改革,重点包括利率汇率市场化改革、稳步推进人民币资本项目可兑换;推动民间资本有效进入金融、能源、铁路、电信等领域(目前这些仍然是国有垄断领域);推进电价、天然气以及水资源价格改革,以增强资源节约利用和环境保护;健全社会保障制度、增强食品安全;以及推进户籍制度改革,让更多农民工在城市落户。

    由于这份文件覆盖面广,一些观察人士认为中国会大刀阔斧地推进新一轮改革。然而,现在为中国经济改革重启弹冠相庆还为时过早。

    尽管发改委提出的改革任务看似激进,但是并不新鲜。此前很多中国官员与领导人就多次提及过相关改革。发改委将所有主要改革任务都列在一个引人注目的文件里,肯定会产生很大的影响力。另一个值得警惕的理由是,这个文件只是罗列了空泛和概括性的原则和目标,并没有提及具体的实施办法。就文件本身而言,它并没有告诉我们这些改革将怎样实施。商业界人士应该等待更具体的政策措施出台。

    发改委的这份文件没有提到要缩减国有企业规模,这点最为引人注意。《意见》没有提出推进国有企业私有化、分拆或让它们失去垄断保护与补贴的任何政策措施。这一点会引起人们的高度警惕。其中一些改革(如金融改革、推动民间资本进入国有企业垄断领域)都会对国有企业构成打击。如果政府不削弱国有企业的势力与特权,它们会轻易利用这些优势来阻碍能够促进竞争、减少垄断利润的改革。

    Those who have been waiting for China's new leadership to unveil their economic reform program finally got some good news last week. The new premier, Li Keqiang, vowed to reduce the government's influence on China's economy in a speech to senior Communist Party officials.

    More importantly, the State Council, the country's cabinet, endorsed a set of reform objectives drafted by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the economic super-agency in charge of planning and regulation.

    Judging by the NDRC's reform objectives for 2013, it is easy to get the impression that China's new leaders have a bold and ambitious agenda. The document covers a wide range of initiatives. The most important are deregulation through a significant reduction of the government's power to approve investments; fiscal reform, with a focus on changing a current turnover tax into a value-added tax and expanding the experiment of levying a property tax; financial reform through liberalization of interest and exchange rates and gradual progress toward capital account convertibility; promotion of private investment in financial, energy, telecom, and rail transportation sectors, all of which have remained monopolies of the state; reform of the prices of electricity, natural gas, and water in order to promote efficiency and conservation; strengthening social safety nets and improving food safety; gradual reform of the urban household registration system to permit more migrants to settle in cities.

    The breadth of the agenda has led some observers of China to call it radical. However, it would be premature to celebrate the revival of Chinese economic reform.

    Although the proposed reforms in the NDRC document seem bold, they are not new. The individual pieces of the reform have been put forward by various Chinese bureaucracies and leaders before. Obviously, it does make a considerable difference if an important agency like NDRC groups all of them in one eye-catching document. Another reason to be cautious is that the NDRC document contains vague and general announcements of principles and aspirations but lacks specifics. On its own, it tells us little about how these reforms are going to be carried out. The business community should wait for more detailed policies.

    The most glaring omission in the NDRC directive is the curtailment of the state-owned enterprises (SOEs). It does not contain any measures that will lead to the privatization, break-up, or the loss of monopoly protection and subsidies of Chinese state-controlled businesses. This raises a giant red flag. Many of the proposed reforms (such as financial reform and promotion of private investment in sectors currently dominated by SOEs) will hurt powerful SOEs. If the government does not reduce the power and privileges of SOEs, they will easily use them to thwart any reforms that will increase competition and hurt monopoly profits.

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