Premier Li: China to step up support for businesses hit hard by COVID-19

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday that China will step up measures to support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, particularly in the services sector, that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 epidemic.

Li made the remarks during a press conference in Beijing after the closing of the fifth session of the 13th National People's Congress.

Sectors including catering, retail, tourism and passenger transportation, still face difficulties caused by COVID-19, Li said. Around 100 million self-employed households have provided some 300 million jobs in China, and timely help is critical for them to weather the difficulties, he said. 

To address the challenges facing these market entities, Li said 40 measures will be introduced to provide them with stronger support. For instance, tax refunds totaling 180 billion yuan (about $28 billion) will be given to catering, tourism, passenger transportation and culture sectors, according to Li.

In addition, the country will allow loan payment extensions for promising businesses, and the exemption of rental and electricity bills will help business owners keep their businesses open, he said.

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