Several ministry-level departments, including those for education, finance, transport and agriculture and rural affairs, have responded recently to issues of public concern.
Advertisements prohibited in school textbooks
The Ministry of Education said on June 6 that commercial advertisements must not be included in textbooks for middle and primary school students.
The ministry said internet links or QR codes leading to websites containing supplementary learning materials are also prohibited in textbooks. Publishers will, however, be encouraged to provide free digital audio products matched with textbooks on the internet. Local education authorities must ramp up checks on the use of textbooks, and schools that fail to abide by regulations will face penalties, the ministry said.
VAT exemption for HIV drugs extended
China will continue with measures to exempt domestic anti-HIV medicine from value-added tax in a bid to prevent and control the spread of the virus.
The Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation said in a joint statement on June 5 that the VAT exemption - effective from Jan 1, 2019, to Dec 31, 2020 - will cover all anti-HIV drugs during their production and distribution. China has eight types of anti-HIV drugs that are officially designated medicines to be purchased by the government and distributed free to AIDS patients. Drug production and distribution enterprises shall retain drug supply contracts for inspection by the tax authorities, the statement added. Chinese authorities will expand a healthcare program to help people from impoverished families in rural areas receive treatment for 25 major diseases, including HIV-related infections, this year.
Control of fall armyworm stepped up across country
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has urged intensified measures to prevent and control the spread of fall armyworm, which has affected 228,000 hectares of farmland in 18 provincial areas.
The ministry said on June 7 that the pest, which appeared in China this year, is spreading more quickly and becoming more destructive.
The pest, native to the Americas, feeds on sorghum and millet in addition to maize. It has been found in close to 100 countries since spreading out of Africa in 2016. The ministry said it could pose severe threats to the production of corn in North China between June and August.
The ministry, together with the Ministry of Finance, has launched a special fund of 500 million yuan ($72.4 million) to control the spread of the pest. Local agricultural authorities must scale up their efforts to monitor the spread of fall armyworm, with more monitoring sites and better technologies, the ministry said.
It also called for different areas to come up with their own plans to control and prevent the spread of the pest. More training must be given to farmers on the use of pesticides and related measures to enable effective, low-cost efforts to fight the pest.
Electronic toll collection promoted on expressways
Authorities in 29 provincial-level areas have come up with plans to promote the use of electronic toll collection as the country phases out expressway toll booths at provincial borders this year, the Ministry of Transport said on June 7.
The ministry said in a statement that electronic methods will become the main way to collect tolls on expressways before December, in a move designed to make transport more efficient. All provincial-level areas in the Chinese mainland, with the exception of the Tibet autonomous region and Hainan province, have come up with plans to promote electronic toll collection.
For expressways that still require manpower to collect tolls, the ministry said mobile payment methods must be made available to motorists.
To promote the use of ETC among motorists, the ministry said in a notice last month that transponders will be provided for free to drivers, with facilities for fitting them and setting up ETC accounts to be made available near toll stations and highway service areas.
The ministry has set a target of 80 percent of vehicles being equipped with ETC transponders before the end of this year.