China has unveiled a new set of measures to prop up consumer spending and support small businesses and the service sector as the country battles to contain its most widespread COVID-19 outbreaks since the pandemic began.
In the directive issued on Monday, the General Office of the State Council, China’s Cabinet, pledged to step up support measures for companies hard hit by the pandemic, ensure supply and price stability. commodities and to encourage innovation in consumption patterns.
Key measures include encouraging financial institutions to extend support to hard-hit sectors and encouraging eligible areas to offer free nucleic acid testing to workers in the retail and restaurant sectors.
The directive came as retail sales of consumer goods in China, a key indicator of spending, fell 3.5% year-on-year in March, amid headwinds from COVID-19 outbreaks. The outbreaks have hit the restaurant industry particularly hard, which saw revenue drop 16.4% year-on-year in March, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Meanwhile, online retail sales of goods rose 8.8% year-on-year in the first quarter of this year, contributing to a larger share of retail sales, which rose 3.3% from the previous quarter. 2021 level.
According to the directive, the nation will plan the construction of large warehousing bases in major cities to ensure that daily necessities can be distributed in an emergency and the supply of goods is not interrupted.
The guideline stressed the need to promote the growth of new spending patterns to adapt to measures to contain the pandemic, saying new business patterns such as smart products need to be further stimulated.
By stabilizing consumer fundamentals, the nation will intensify measures to boost spending on services such as health and care for the elderly, including the development of services and products in tourism, health consultation, daily care and chronic disease management for the elderly.
The government will prioritize the development of green consumption, including taking measures to promote the use of green building materials, accelerate the renovation of buildings for energy saving purposes and support the growth of the vehicle sector. with new energies.
The policy document calls for better alignment of epidemic containment measures between different regions to ensure unhindered logistics, indicating that the development of cold chain logistics will be accelerated.
He stressed the need to boost spending by increasing residents’ incomes, with measures to support the development of diverse labor markets, self-employed activities and improve the income level of wage earners in urban areas and migrant workers. .
By breaking down the barriers that restrict spending, the government will seek to further coordinate standards, rules and policies across different areas and sectors.