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Economic weakness erodes China's fiscal revenue growth

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BEIJING, April 13 (Xinhua) -- China's fiscal revenue rose 18.7 percent year-on-year in March to 905.8 billion yuan (143.78 billion U.S. dollars), the Ministry of Finance said Friday.

The increase was down sharply from 26.7 percent in March 2011.

In the first quarter of this year, the country's fiscal revenue rose 14.7 percent from the same period last year to hit nearly 3 trillion yuan, the ministry said.

The growth, though slightly higher than the 13.1-percent rise in the January-February period, contrasts a 33.1-percent jump in the same period last year.

The ministry attributed the slower growth in fiscal revenue to economic weakness, slower price rises and tax cuts to adjust revenue distribution, support small companies and industrial upgrading, and expand imports.

GDP in the world's second-largest economy grew 8.1 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, the lowest pace in nearly three years.

Tax revenue nationwide climbed 10.3 percent year-on-year to 2.59 trillion yuan in the first three months, compared with a 32.4-percent increase in the same period of last year.

The ministry said lower growth was seen in value-added tax, business tax, corporate income tax and import tariffs.

Revenue from the value-added tax, a major part of total tax revenue, rose 5.4 percent in the January-March period from a year ago to 660.2 billion yuan, it said.

On the spending side, there was a steep rise in public housing projects, which surged 74.7 percent year-on-year in the first quarter. Fiscal expenditure on healthcare as well as energy conservation and environmental protection also climbed by 68.2 percent and 64.8 percent, respectively, in the period.

In the first three months, the country's fiscal expenditure totaled 2.41 trillion yuan, up 33.6 percent year-on-year. Its fiscal expenditure increased 34.7 percent in March from a year ago to 1.02 trillion yuan, the ministry said.

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