BEIJING, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- The combined total of GDP figures released by China's provincial-level governments for the first half-year added up to 11.92 trillion yuan (1.55 trillion U.S. dollars), a full 1.24 trillion yuan higher than the figure released by the central government last month, Thursday's Shanghai Securities News reports.
The disparity, which was 804.8 billion yuan in last year's first half, could reach 2.5 trillion yuan for the whole of 2007, equivalent to the 2006 GDP of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing combined.
The average GDP growth rate reported by local governments has been "around two percentage points" higher than the national figure for six consecutive years, said the report.
Vigorous regional economic cooperation was a "new factor" that puffed up the local GDP figures in 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities on the Chinese mainland, who "wittingly or unwittingly" did repeated calculations by counting mutual investment and trade into their own GDP, said the report.
"Regional economic integration does make it more difficult for provinces to figure out their GDP, leading to big errors in computation," Zhao Yanyun, associate professor with the Beijing-based Renmin University of China, was quoted as saying.
Largely to blame for the misreporting, however, is a system that has made the pursuit of economic growth the top criteria for provincial-level governments and officials.
"It often happens that local governments interfere with the accounting to make the figures look better," Cai Zhizhou, a statistics expert at Beijing University, said earlier this year.
Xie Fuzhan, director of the National Bureau of Statistics, said in January this year the central government would take back local governments' rights to calculate GDP as many local figures were found to be fabricated.
In an attempt to ensure the accuracy of local figures, the statistics agency formed its own survey teams in China's 30 provinces at the end of 2006, which will report directly to the central government rather than provincial-level governments.
Despite double-digit economic growth for four consecutive years, the central government planned to lower the rate to eight percent in 2007, urging local officials to check excessive growth and pay more attention to the environment.