Top economic planner issues guidelines to boost spending in 'Happiness Industry'

Updated 2016-11-30 10:32:34 Global Times

Lack of high-end supply in goods and services has hindered the growth of consumption, which has become both larger and more sophisticated, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner, said Tuesday.

The NDRC held a press conference to discuss a national guideline released on Monday that contains broad measures aimed at further spurring consumption.

"Demand in tourism, culture, sports, health, elder care, education and training is growing rapidly, and these sectors have shown huge potential. Yet the upgrading of these sectors, especially on the supply side, lags behind changes on the demand side. That difference prompted policymakers to roll out the guideline," said Cong Liang, an official at the NDRC.

These sectors have been collectively designated as the Happiness Industry.

The guideline includes detailed measures such as adding 100 tourist demonstration zones by the end of this year to boost rural tourism and a commitment to expanding policy support for agriculture-related leisure activity.

The guideline also called for measures to tackle some of the institutional bottlenecks that curb the growth of the elder care, education and sports sectors, according to the NDRC. For example, sports infrastructure and facilities inside schools and institutions will be encouraged to open for public use to cater to the needs of the public. Currently, most of these facilities are limited to outsiders.

By 2020, the market for aero sports, water sports, and mountain and outdoor sports will reach 900 billion yuan (0.4 billion), according to the NDRC.

"The guideline goes directly to the issue of expanding demand at a time when exports are losing steam," Tian Yun, director of the China Society of Macroeconomics Research Center, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"To convert potential consumption into actual consumption, the consumer atmosphere has to be improved, and consumers must have the necessary purchasing power," Tian said.

But there is pent-up demand in China's vast rural areas due to a fragmented administrative system, and lack of infrastructure at the grassroots level, according to Tian.

He said that the government should be the booster when it comes to tapping the potential of consumption, and the country urgently needs to see some good examples of successful grassroots implementation of State-level policies.

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