BEIJING (Bloomberg): China is stepping up efforts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus with a series of relief measures for companies directly engaged in the fight against the disease that has killed more than 500 people.
The steps include reduction in value-added taxes and nudging banks to offer loans carrying interest rates of less than 1.6% for key enterprises that produce, sell or transport essential medical products and daily necessities, China’s State Council said on its website last night.
Separately, the nation’s airlines will also be exempt from a civil aviation fund fee starting Jan 1, it said.
The outbreak, first reported late last year, has turned into China’s biggest health crisis at least since 2003.
Two-thirds of the world’s second-largest economy remained closed this week as several provinces took the extraordinary step of extending the Lunar New Year holiday to help curb the virus that has infected more than 28,000 people.
Officials are evaluating whether to soften expectations for economic growth in 2020, people familiar with the matter said earlier this month, as the virus threatens to undermine expansion.
Airlines got some relief as well. Like companies in almost all other industries, carriers have been hit by travel bans put in place both in and outside of China.
The number of trips made in China over the Lunar New Year break plunged 73% to about 190 million from the holiday last year because of the restrictions. - Bloomberg