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China to take more steps to ensure supplies for epidemic control

Zhang Yue
Updated: Feb 06,2020 00:40 AM

China will roll out a host of measures to ensure the supply of key medical resources and daily necessities for intensified epidemic prevention and control and increase the production of urgently needed medical resources. Greater fiscal and financial policy support will be extended to industries and businesses involved in outbreak response. The plans were made at the State Council’s executive meeting on Feb 5 chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pneumonia, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council have placed the utmost importance on prevention and control work. General Secretary Xi Jinping has repeatedly underscored the imperative to ensure supply of medical and protective resources, preserve order in production and people’s lives, and ensure supply of daily necessities. Premier Li Keqiang has stressed the need to keep timely and accurate track of epidemic control supplies, and take resolute measures to support related enterprises in resuming production as quickly as possible and expanding their manufacturing capacity.

“We must make all-out efforts across the country to meet the needs for essential medical supplies and medical professionals in Hubei province, especially its capital city, Wuhan. Key industries should lose no time in resuming production and operate in full gear to ensure the normal operation of industrial chains,” Premier Li said. “Transportation of these materials must be well coordinated. The initiative of governments at the sub-national level should be brought into full play. The central government should provide fiscal and financial support.”

The meeting on Feb 5 required redoubled efforts to ensure supplies vital for epidemic control. While key businesses will be urged to promptly resume production and operate in full gear, State-owned enterprises will be guided to switch production as quickly as possible to better serve the needs of epidemic control, and expand production capacity.

The private sector will be fully mobilized. Support will be extended to businesses shifting to contribute to outbreak response, and their difficulties in accessing funding, getting qualification approval, securing production venues and purchasing raw materials will be addressed. Production of key medical supplies in high demand will be increased while ensuring their quality. All the excess medical supplies thus produced will be procured by the government as reserves. Deferral of social insurance contributions and other possible means will be encouraged to help businesses keep payrolls stable.

“The needs across the country for essential goods and medical resources must be met. Sub-national governments should fulfill their due responsibilities. Stronger guidance should be provided to better coordinate the work on all fronts,” Premier Li said.

The meeting urged local governments to fulfill their primary responsibilities and make every effort to ensure the production and provision of major agricultural products, including poultry, eggs, meat, and vegetables. Vegetable growing and poultry and livestock farming should be promoted, and animal feed and processing factories facilitated in early resumption of production to meet the demand from the animal husbandry sector. Supply of meat, eggs and dairy products will be increased.

“We must make the key macro policy support well-targeted and extend it, as quickly as possible, to enterprises producing medical supplies and daily necessities and companies key to the economic development and people’s livelihood,” the Premier said.

The meeting called for greater efforts to ensure smooth transportation. Illegal acts such as arbitrary road blockage will be promptly stopped. Shipment of medical supplies and daily necessities to key epidemic areas will be prioritized, and transportation fast tracks will be kept open for delivering major agricultural products, including poultry, eggs, meat and vegetables.

“Panic and overreaction should be averted, while science-based and sensible prevention and protection will be encouraged,” he said.

The meeting decided on greater fiscal and financial support on top of previously introduced measures for enterprises producing essential supplies.

Starting from 1 January, manufacturers of key products will temporarily enjoy one-time tax deductions for equipment purchases. Revenue from shipping key epidemic control supplies and providing public transportation, consumer services, and express delivery will be exempted from VAT. Eligible epidemic-control drugs and medical devices will be registered free of charge. Support will also be intensified for the research and development of therapeutics and vaccines.

The meeting called for effective implementation of the central bank’s re-lending policy designed to support outbreak control. Commercial banks will be supported in providing loans to key enterprises in the production, shipment, and sales of essential supplies at a concessional rate. A 50 percent interest discount will be financed by fiscal money to keep the rate at below 1.6 percent.

Supervision and oversight by fiscal and auditing authorities will be strengthened to ensure all the funding is put to best use.