China to further ensure supply and prices of necessities, energy
China will adopt further measures to ensure sufficient supply and stable prices of essential necessities and energy, to meet the needs of people's daily use and corporate production, according to the decisions made at the State Council Executive Meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday.
The meeting noted that China has maintained price stability and bolstered its capacity to ensure stable food and energy supply in the past year, which provides a strong underpinning for stabilizing economic performance and meeting people's basic needs.
To better coordinate COVID response with economic and social development, it is imperative to take stronger steps to ensure supply and stable prices of essential necessities, medical goods and energy, to guarantee sufficient market supply and price stability during the Spring Festival, and meet people's needs for medical care and winter heating.
"Despite the moderation in economic growth last year, price rises have been kept at a relatively low level, which is no easy feat. We did a lot of hard and meticulous work, and refrained from excessive money supply or continuously increasing deficit by a wide margin. This is an important foundation for price stability," Li said.
The meeting stressed the need to further enforce the system of provincial governors assuming responsibility for the "rice bag" and city mayors for the "vegetable basket", conduct timely market reallocation, and produce a greater variety of small-package grains and oils.
Efforts will be made to support transportation of vegetables from southern regions to the north and fruits from western provinces to the east, and adjust commodity reserves as necessary. In the meantime, production and market matchmaking of other essential necessities will be ensured.
Sound preparedness for spring plowing and sowing will be made, and provision of fertilizers and other agricultural supplies as well as related services ensured, to further promote grain production and firm up the basis for price stability.
Supplies of medical and anti-epidemic goods will be scaled up with all efforts possible. A list of key producers will be established to support their full-capacity production. Efforts will be made in time to address difficulties in the supply of raw and auxiliary materials, labor and funds, to ensure uninterrupted production and supply of businesses.
Distribution of medical supplies such as medicines will be strengthened to meet the needs of medical institutions, stay-at-home patients, elderly-care facilities and rural areas, in an effort to ensure effective epidemic response.
"Expenses of medical services and drugs that are covered by the medical insurance scheme should be reimbursed wherever possible to better meet people's demands for medical care and anti-epidemic supplies," Li said.
Further steps will be taken to ensure energy supply. Advanced coal production capacity will be unlocked on an ongoing basis and policies for addressing the difficulties of coal-fired power plants implemented, to ensure safe and normal production of energy enterprises during holidays.
Distribution of energy resources will be better coordinated, and contingency plans made for meeting electricity and natural gas demands during peak hours, to ensure residential use of energy and shore up power supply in key areas, industries and enterprises.
Logistics companies will be supported to redistribute transportation capacity as appropriate and reinforce front-line staff. Greater care will be provided to couriers for goods and food delivery, to ensure stable operation of postal and delivery services during the Spring Festival.
Localities will receive guidance in providing provisional price subsidies in a timely manner in line with relevant regulations. Market and price oversight will be strengthened. Violations such as hoarding and price gouging will be dealt with pursuant to law.
"As the momentum of economic recovery and stable growth continues, energy demand is on the rise. Stronger efforts should be made to ensure safe and stable energy supply with priority given to residential use. On top of this, energy demand in the production activities of economically strong provinces, key industries and enterprises must also be met," Li said. "We will continue to facilitate smooth operation of both trunk and branch routes in transport and logistics, and promptly address possible bottlenecks in last-mile delivery."
The meeting also stressed due preparations to make this year's Spring Festival a satisfying one for the public.
China will protect the legitimate rights and interests of migrant workers and make sure they receive their wages in full. It will also provide temporary relief to help those in COVID-induced or other difficulties, the meeting said.
Production safety should be strengthened to prevent serious accidents, while transportation, energy, communication and other infrastructure should function safely even in extreme weather conditions, according to the meeting.
(Cover: Citizens purchase Spring Festival accessories in a market in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province, January 3, 2023. /CFP)