We owe our achievements of the past year to the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, to the sound guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, and to the concerted efforts of the Party, the military, and the people of all ethnic groups in China. On behalf of the State Council, I express sincere thanks to the people of all our ethnic groups, and to all other political parties, people's organizations, and public figures from all sectors of society. I express sincere appreciation to our fellow countrymen and women in the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, in Taiwan, and overseas. I also express our sincere gratitude to the governments of other countries, international organizations, and friends from all over the world who have shown understanding and support for China in its endeavor to achieve modernization.
Only alertness to danger will ensure safety. While fully recognizing our achievements, we must also be clear about the problems and challenges our country faces in its development. Growth in the global economy is slowing, protectionism and unilateralism are mounting, and there are drastic fluctuations in the prices of commodities on the international market. Instability and uncertainty are visibly increasing, and externally-generated risks are on the rise.
Downward pressure on the Chinese economy continues to increase, growth in consumption is slowing, and growth in effective investment lacks momentum. The real economy faces many difficulties. The difficulties that private firms and small and micro businesses face in accessing affordable financing have not yet been effectively solved. The business environment still falls short of market entities' expectations. Our capacity for innovation is not strong, and our weakness in terms of core technologies for key fields remains a salient problem. Budgetary deficits in some localities are quite large. There are still many risks and hidden dangers in the financial and other sectors. In deeply impoverished areas, we still face many difficulties in the fight against poverty. Ecological conservation and pollution prevention and control continue to be a weighty task.
There is still public dissatisfaction in many areas, such as education, healthcare, elderly care, housing, food and drug safety, and income distribution. Last year saw the occurrence of a number of public safety incidents and major workplace accidents. The lessons these incidents left us with should never be forgotten. There is room for improvement in the work of government. Some measures and policies for reform and development have not been fully implemented. We still have a serious problem with pointless formalities and bureaucratism. Excessive and over-frequent inspections and evaluations and a focus on the superficial to the neglect of the substantive have increased the burden on officials working at the primary level. A small number of government employees lack drive. Instances of corruption still occur frequently in some sectors. We must face the problems and challenges squarely, shoulder our responsibility, fully perform our duties, and do all we can to truly live up to people's expectations.