Li: Stabilizing employment must be given high priority amid new COVID flare-ups
China will provide greater policy support to keep payrolls stable and boost job creation, in a bid to ensure steady economic performance, according to a decision made at a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday.
"Now we need to place greater importance on stabilizing employment. The new round of COVID flare-ups has hit employment quite hard. More forceful measures will be taken to enable the early resumption of full-capacity production of enterprises on the basis of sound COVID-19 control," Li said.
"It is particularly important to ensure the normal operation of key enterprises in the industrial and supply chains, in transportation and logistics, and those for COVID-19 response, and to ensure key infrastructure. Point-to-point assistance will be provided to those facing massive difficulties," Li said.
Policies to temporarily defer premium payments for old-age insurance, unemployment insurance and workers' compensation will be expanded from the catering, retail, tourism, civil aviation, highway, waterway and railway transportation industries to all micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, or MSMEs, and self-employed households facing COVID-related difficulties in their operations.
The proportion of refunding unemployment insurance premiums for MSMEs and self-employed households that make no or minimal cuts to staff numbers will be increased to as high as 90 percent.
Localities will be supported in implementing temporary discounts on electricity consumption for industries in special difficulty. In addition, broadband and dedicated internet services will be provided to MSMEs at concessional rates. Moreover, healthy development of the platform economy will be advanced to boost job creation.
"We must make dedicated efforts to support market entities and keep employment stable. At the same time, we must do whatever is possible to boost job creation, especially for key groups such as college graduates," Li said.
A group of projects in fields including farmland irrigation, water conservancy and rural roads will be launched, and public works programs will be extended, to increase job opportunities for migrant workers. Support measures such as deferred repayment of student loans and interest reduction and exemption will be explored.
The meeting also heard reports on the work of ensuring smooth transportation and logistics, and it urged greater efforts to unclog bottlenecks.
"We must maintain smooth transportation and logistics. This is crucial to sustaining stable overall economic performance and ensuring people's well-being. This work should take a key place on our agenda," Li said.
The meeting required efforts to ensure the efficient running of traffic arteries. Toll stations and service areas along expressways should stay open to the greatest extent possible. Platform and delivery enterprises will be supported in scaling up their transportation capacity.
Support will be provided so that outlets that have been shut down due to COVID-19, including express service points, can resume operation and so that delivery personnel can return to work in an orderly manner.
Value-added tax will be exempted on eligible revenues generated from express delivery services from May 1 until the end of the year. A 100 billion yuan ($15.2 billion) relending quota will be put into place as quickly as possible to support financing for the transportation, logistics and warehousing industries.
It is imperative to issue as many travel permits as necessary, the meeting decided. Quick application and issuance and inter-regional recognition of travel permits will be realized nationwide. Free COVID-19 tests will be provided to truck drivers during transportation.