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This special series features the city's most important annual political conferences, Lianghui, or Two Sessions, which runs from January 26 to 31.

Throughout the week, Andy Boreham from Shanghai Daily will give you a multimedia roundup of what Lianghui is all about and what's going on during the event.

During the annual Two Sessions, the government reports to the public how much tax it took in and which areas they spent most of the money on last year. It also tells how much it will set aside for the budget and what measures it will take to boost the city's economic and social development this year.

What happened in 2018?

1. The Four "Account Books"

The government is responsible for mapping out four types of budgets — the general public budget, the government fund budget, the state asset budget and the social insurance fund budget.

The general public budget

The government fund budget

The state asset budget

The social insurance fund budget

2. The General Public Budget

Areas more related to our daily lives, such as education, employment, science and technology, and public health, belong to the general public budget.

The Revenue

Last year, the revenue of the general public budget reached 710.81 billion yuan, up 7 percent from last year due to:

  • stable and healthy growth in revenue. City-level revenue grew 6.5 percent and district-level 7.5 percent.
  • reasonable structure of tax revenue. Last year, the city took in 628.5 billion yuan of tax revenue, realizing 6.7%, 8.3% and 11.2% growth in the revenue of value-added tax, corporate income tax and individual income tax respectively.
  • faster growth in the tertiary industry, which saw an 8.2% growth in its revenue, much higher than 3.3% growth in the secondary industry.

The Expenditure

Do you know which areas Shanghai spent most of the budget on? Last year, the city govenment spent the most in urban and rural communities, followed by social insurance and employment, and education. Let's take a look at the detailed breakdown.

What's the picture in 2019?

1. The General Public Budget

This year, the revenue of the general public budget is expected to reach 746.5 billion yuan, up 5% from that of 2018, but also a 2-percentage-point drop in the growth rate. This is due to the following reasons:

  • Shanghai is continuously improving its business environment, and will implement the three major tasks in 2019 (i.e. expansion of the free trade zone, the launch of a technology innovation board and the integration of the Yangtze River Delta.)
  • The world economy is slowing down due to the rise of trade protectionism.
  • The tax reform that cuts tax and administrative fees has brought down the financial revenue the city takes in.
  • Shanghai's undergoing a phase of economic restructuring and upgrading by slowing down industrial growth. It demands more efforts to make breakthroughs in key technologies and create new drivers of economic growth.

Excluding the adjustment fund, tax rebate from the central government and the debt revenue.

2. The other three budgets in 2019


The government fund budget

The state asset budget

The social insurance fund budget

Word on the street:
What are people concerned about?

In this section, our reporters interviewed some pedestrians on Shanghai's streets and asked what issues they are concerned most about regarding the city. Let's see what they said.

VOICES AT THE SESSIONS

Tao Yinyan

Li Feikang

Deputy to Shanghai People's Congress

Shanghai could reinstate outdoor food markets at night, and improve public transport and taxis. To ensure the quality and sanitary standards of open-air food markets, the government should roll out standards, fund the construction of infrastructure and assess food businesses at the markets annually.

Li Rong

Pan Xichen

Deputy to Shanghai People's Congress

It's time to upgrade the cruise tour services on the Huangpu River because they've become "mediocre." The shortcomings of the cruise services include a short supply of day tours, unsatisfactory food and expensive tickets. The audio guide service for foreign tourists should also be improved.

Wang Jun

Pan Shuhong

Deputy to Shanghai People's Congress

Supportive policies and measures should be offered for small and medium-sized enterprises. Suggestions include reasonably adjusting the tax classification of individual businesses and partnerships so that they can enjoy preferential tax policies for small and micro enterprises. Commercial banks should set up inclusive financial departments to offer finance services suitable for SMEs, and increase their availability of credit.

What's Lianghui in Andy's eyes?

Although I'm definitely not a numbers person myself, it was really interesting to have a look into Shanghai's books, so to speak, for 2018. Keeping the home of more than 20 million people running smoothly definitely doesn't come cheap, and that was clearly highlighted when the government made the city's four so-called account books public. As someone who is at least a little fiscally conservative, it's good to see that expenditure doesn’t exceed revenue, and that the books are healthy heading into 2019.