China appoints new finance head as government debt, revenue shortfalls threaten growth prospects
Lan Foan, former party head of Shanxi, takes charge of finance ministry as previous holder retiresMove comes as doubts grow over sustainability of government debts, revenueChina's economic recoveryAmanda LeePublished: 5:04pm, 28 Sep, 2023Why you can trust SCMP
Lan Foan has been appointed party chief of China’s finance ministry as Beijing battles to tamp down local government debt and boost fiscal revenue to put economic growth back on a sustainable trajectory.
Lan, 61, has taken over the position from Liu Kun, according to a statement issued by the ministry on Friday. He is also poised to succeed Liu as finance minister. Liu has held both positions since 2018 and will turn 67 later this year, well beyond the normal retirement age of 65 for civil servants of ministerial rank.
Before the appointment, Lan was party chief of Shanxi province and previously served in financial departments at local and central levels.
China’s economy has showed signs of recovery after a slew of supportive policies was unveiled in July, but the deepening property crisis has weighed on the comeback as local governments that relied on income from land sales find themselves saddled with debt.
Zhang Zhiwei, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management, said the finance ministry reshuffle is “a positive development” for the economy and “indicates the policy stance may become more expansionary”, but it could take time.