Private and semi-public businesses are being encouraged to invest in the key projects to belaunched during China’s 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20), and the interests andlegitimate rights of investors should be protected, Premier Li Keqiang has said.

“Conditions permitting, we should innovate methods to attract ‘social investment’ to theseprojects,” Li told a meeting on Monday in Beijingattended by senior officials of someprovinces and State Council departments.

The premier’s remarks reflected his solutions to the knotty issue of the slowing growthmomentum of investment by private enterprises. Officials have blamed the slowdown onthe sluggish world economy, downward domestic pressure and overcapacityin someindustries.

Private fixed-asset investment, which accounts for more than 60 percent of the country’stotal investment, slowed to a record low in the first half of the year, with growth sliding to2.8 percent from double digits last year.

Li cautioned that a continued slump in private investment growth could spoil the country’sefforts to maintain economic growth within the targeted range — 6.5 to 7 percent for theyear — and to optimize the economic structure in coming years.

He called for innovation in investment modes and a ramping up of price reforms.

In particular, he said the Public-Private-Partnership financing mode should be promotedto divert more social funds to education, medical care, elderly care and other servicesectors, as well as to infrastructure.

“While making use of the government funds, which are limited in amount, we mustenhance the guidance of the flow of social funds,” he said, adding that efforts must bemade to prevent such funds from going to sectors that are beleaguered by overcapacity andare polluting the environment.

Boosting effective investment will have a wide range of influences, including promotingconsumption and creating jobs, the premier said.

Li Jinbin, governor of Anhui province in East China, said at the meeting that many privateenterprises had intended to invest in strategic new industries and public services thatpromise stable or high returns. However, Li said, investor access to these sectors remaineddifficult.

In response, the premier said market entrance barriers of all forms must be removed,discrimination eliminated, and costs cut for private and semi-public companies to invest.He also asked governments to repay their debts to companies.

In addition, stronger financial support should be given to small and micro enterprises.

The premier also said there is enough space for investment in China, given the enormousdomestic demands.

Overall fixed-asset investment, a gauge of infrastructure spending, slowed further in thefirst half to 9 percent, the lowest growth rate in years.