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China to maintain economic, social progress while advancing epidemic control

Zhang Yue
Updated: Feb 12,2020 11:33 PM

As it advances epidemic control with all-out efforts, China will enhance macro-economic regulation, and step up production, allocation and supply of key materials, to maintain social and economic progress. These arrangements were made at the State Council’s executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Feb 11.

The Chinese government places great importance on accelerating the resumption of production and life as usual, as this is vital for effectively handling major epidemics and keeping steady economic development. General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed the need to maintain normal economic and social order with all-out efforts and to return life and work to normalcy while ensuring effective outbreak response. Premier Li Keqiang urged continued efforts to advance science-based epidemic control, and resume production in an orderly way to better support the outbreak response and preserve normal economic and social order.

At the meeting, departments reported their work on provision of key supplies and orderly resumption of production and life. There is a fast increase in essential medical supplies, ample supply of daily necessities overall, and steady energy supply including coal, electricity, oil and gas. Multiple steps such as spacing out return trips have prevented overcrowding at the end of Spring Festival. Related departments excluded the possibility of any travel rush in the coming week like in previous years.

"While ensuring effective outbreak response, a category-based approach should be adopted in resuming production in an orderly manner," Premier Li said.

The meeting underscored the need to encourage enterprises to resume production in a category-specific and well-organized manner. The immediate priority for Hubei province is to stay focused on epidemic containment while ensuring the normal running of companies vital for outbreak response and key urban services. Other provinces should take well-targeted measures in epidemic control and prevention based on local realities. For most cities in other provinces with limited number of cases, local authorities should facilitate the orderly resumption of production.

The meeting urged producers of key medical supplies to promptly resume full-capacity production to meet front-line epidemic control needs. Transportation arteries and key logistics hubs must be kept unimpeded. In places where the situation is not as serious, bus services and urban public transportation can resume in an orderly way.

"We must make every effort to ensure supplies for outbreak response and daily necessities to maintain economic progress and people’s life," Premier Li said.

The meeting urged well-planned return of workers, including better coordination and services for key groups such as migrant workers. Any one-size-fits-all practices to stop nonlocal vehicles and personnel from coming in must be readdressed.

"We must keep transportation arteries open and shipment unimpeded. Concentrated flows of people must be averted by staggering return trips," Premier Li stressed.

The meeting urged sub-national governments to establish special mechanisms to help companies cope with the outbreak impact to ease any difficulties facing businesses, especially private and smaller firms. Temporary measures should be implemented to support businesses, including cutting or waiving rent for private firms in State-owned properties, lowering lending rates, and improving tax relief policies.

The supply of essential goods including grains, oil, vegetables, meat, eggs and dairy products will be ensured with greater efforts. Illegal activities such as price gouging will be dealt with pursuant to law. To facilitate production in agriculture and animal husbandry, supplies of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and animal feed will be guaranteed and their smooth shipment ensured. The timely launch of key projects will be promoted.

Employment is another priority, and massive lay-offs must be prevented. Local governments will be encouraged to allocate funding, including tapping the balance in unemployment insurance funds, to help businesses to keep their payrolls stable. In places where conditions permit, deferral or refund on social insurance contributions and other means will be encouraged.

"All ministries and departments under the State Council must act on the requirements of the State Council’s inter-agency task force, and introduce, in a timely way, support policies as the outbreak situation evolves, to promote social and economic development on all fronts," Premier Li said.