Premier Li Keqiang gave details of ongoing reforms to the state-owned enterprise sector in his opening speech to NPC on Sunday. Photo: Reuters

Reduction in production capacity for iron and steel, coal mining and power generation will be the top task for the government in 2017, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said at the opening ceremony of the annual gathering for the legislature in Beijing on Sunday.

Li delivered his “Report on the Work of the Government” at the start of the Fifth Session of the 12th National People’s Congress, listing the country’s policy plan for the year ahead.

Production capacity for iron and steel will further contract by 50 million metric tonnes, while that for coal will decrease by 150 metric tonnes in 2017.

Coal power generation capacity is expected to drop by 50 million watts through the elimination or suspension of the construction of a number of power plants, Li said.

The problem of “Zombie enterprises” – those with high debts or excessive production capacity – will be tackled through market-oriented takeovers or bankruptcy.

The government would also actively expand effective investment in areas that encourage innovation and benefit the livelihood of people.

Investment in railway projects will reach 800 billion yuan (US$116 billion), that for highway and waterway transport will exceed 1.8 trillion yuan. While 15 major hydraulic engineering projects will kick off this year.

The central government has budgeted spending of 507.6 billion yuan for these projects, Li said. He urged officials to set a good example in respecting contracts while deepening cooperation with society and the market.

As part of ongoing reforms to the state-owned enterprise sector, domestic inter-provincial roaming charges will be canceled while international call rates will drop, Li added in the report.