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Fuzhou eases bottlenecks for local enterprises

By Liu Yukun in Beijing and Hu Meidong in Fuzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2020-02-19 09:59
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An employee works at an iron and steel plant in Zhangzhou, Fujian province, on Monday. [Photo/Xinhua]

Authorities in Fuzhou, capital of East China's Fujian province, are stepping up efforts to help businesses resume production after the prolonged shutdown for the Lunar New Year holiday due to novel coronavirus outbreak, including measures to prevent workplace infections.

The city has rolled out several measures like financial support for companies, especially those related to necessary supplies, online channels for administrative services, encouraging companies to use online platforms for sales, and smoothing logistics operations for companies in need.

The efforts are part of the steps enacted by several Chinese provinces and cities to help companies restart production after prolonged shutdowns due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier this month, East China's Shandong province released a plan to resume full production by the end of this month, with priority being accorded to infrastructure and necessary services like hospitals, energy supply, and logistics. Provinces like Shanxi have also launched supportive policies for businesses to restart operations, such as encouraging flexible remote work arrangements.

On Feb 5, the Ministry of Commerce and related departments announced measures to ensure virus prevention equipment and hygiene guarantees at workplaces along with the necessary steps to prevent workplace infections, particularly at places like supermarkets.

"Both the central and local governments have released detailed plans for the resumption of production and preventing infections at workplaces. This will help various industries to recover from economic losses due to the epidemic," said Zhou Minliang, a senior researcher at the Institute of Industrial Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"The measures include rent cuts or waivers, lower interest on bank loans, smoother logistics, and other steps. But further efforts should be made by the local governments on supportive measures for the more specialized industries and companies," Zhou said.

Realizing the different requirements of enterprises, Fuzhou has come up with multiple preferential policies for various sectors.

For instance, the city government said in a recent statement that in the real estate sector, developers who had delayed resumption of commercial property projects will be exempt from the responsibility of handing over houses to owners on time, and will not face any further issues arising from the breaking of their contracts.

The city has also rolled out other supportive policies for the real estate sector, such as launching online trade platforms to help developers generate more revenue and guarantee capital flows.

For sectors that have higher requirements like efficient transportation, such as vegetable suppliers, the Fuzhou government has launched favorable policies to guarantee smooth logistics, such as giving them priority of roads that have restrictions for carrying loads.

"Among all businesses, small-and medium-sized companies, especially private companies, are getting detailed attention from both the central and local governments, as they are less capable of dealing with the epidemic risks, but are essentially important to China's development of secondary and tertiary sectors, creating more jobs and taxes, and the country's advancement of tech innovation," Zhou said.

Along with the Fuzhou government's efforts to support small-and medium-sized companies to resume work, the Fuzhou-based Industrial Bank has offered over 8 billion yuan ($1.14 billion) of financing to companies related with epidemic prevention, with 2.8 billion yuan going to small-and medium-sized businesses.

Liu Chunsheng, an associate professor of international trade with the Central University of Finance and Economics, said such moves are necessary to guarantee people's daily lives and economic development of provinces and cities. However, it is also important for the government to strike a balance between the novel coronavirus outbreak control and economic development.

Aware of this, Fuzhou has been encouraging cross-border e-commerce platforms to attract overseas medical service providers for imports of qualified medical equipment to fight the epidemic.

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