China helps sole traders fight economic impacts of COVID-19


China has rolled out a series of plans to help individually-owned businesses get through the setback caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak, officials said at a press conference on Thursday.

Since the outbreak began in central China's Wuhan City, people's daily lives and businesses in different sectors have been affected. Despite the fact that the outbreak is being contained, with fewer cases reported in recent days, the battle continues.

In order to strengthen the country's economic base, the Chinese government has made top-down policies covering many areas to help businesses survive the outbreak and return to normalcy. 

Individually-owned businesses are imperative to economic growth and employment creation, said Tang Jun, deputy director of the State Administration of Market Supervision. Presently, China is home to 83.3 million individually-owned businesses, employing some 200 million people, he added.

Tang said these businesses are facing a number of challenges: resumption of work and production, wages for labor and other costs, rent and utility bills, and shortage of cash flow.  

In this backdrop, the State Council, together with other departments, is rolling out a series of supportive measures to help individually-owned businesses resume operations in an orderly manner across China. Additionally, measures are being taken to meet the needs of labor and logistics.

China is set to scale back the operating costs of individually-owned businesses by providing low-interest loans, allowing companies to delay payments of social security premiums, cutting the value-added tax rates, and encouraging landlords to reduce rents in line with the current market realities.

Moreover, the government will fasten the provision of efficient services for individually-owned businesses, thereby reducing barriers to market entry, such as releasing resources at business sites and exempting registration in accordance with the law.

Furthermore, the government shall ensure the non-stop supply of services to people presently having difficulties in paying their utility bills, thereby helping them reduce electricity and gas costs.