The National People's Congress, China's legislative body, passed the national budget and approved the economic plan for 2004. The budget is intended to slow China's deficit spending, with the economic plan aimed at achieving 7% growth. The finance ministry's budget plans to run a budget deficit of US$38.6 billion, the same as in 2003. Passage of the new budget marks the first time that China's budget deficit did not increase since 1998. Some foreign economists have raised concerns that China's proposed deficit does not take the sizable debts at state-owned banks into account.
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