China to maintain economic and social progress while advancing epidemic control


(Photo: Xinhua)

BEIJING, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- 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 a State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday.

Li urged continued efforts to advance science-based epidemic control, and resume production in an orderly way to better support outbreak response and preserve normal economic and social order.

At the meeting, competent 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, and steady energy supply including coal, electricity, oil and gas. Multiple steps such as spacing out return trips have prevented large-scale flows of people on the back of the Spring Festival. Relevant departments excluded the possibility of any travel rush in the coming week like previous years.

"While ensuring effective outbreak response, a category-based approach should be adopted in resuming production in an orderly manner," 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 concentrated on epidemic containment while ensuring the normal running of companies vital for outbreak response and key urban services. Other provinces shall take well-targeted measures in epidemic control and prevention based on local realities. For most cities in other provinces with limited numbers 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 that serious, coach services and urban public transportation can be resumed in an orderly way.

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

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

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

The meeting urged sub-national governments to establish special mechanisms to help companies cope with the outbreak impact to ease the 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 feeds 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 keep their payrolls stable. In places where conditions permit, deferral or refund on social insurance contributions and other possible 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, supportive policies as the outbreak situation evolves, to promote social and economic development on all fronts," Li said.