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Economic Watch: China carefully returns to work amid anti-epidemic battle

2020-2-11 10:56

 

BEIJING, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- Chinese authorities are carefully balancing efforts to control the novel coronavirus epidemic and minimize its impact on the economy as millions of people head back to work Monday after an extended holiday.

In a circular released over the weekend, the State Council, or China's cabinet, urged efforts to protect workers from getting infected and meanwhile resume production as soon as possible.

Companies providing epidemic control supplies and services such as medical material and daily necessities are among the first groups to resume work and have already begun racing back to full capacity to fight the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The virus was first detected in central China's city of Wuhan in December. Easy to transmit from person to person, it has kept people indoors and led to a sharp increase in demand for protective equipment like masks and goggles.

About 73 percent of the country's mask production capacity had been recovered by Friday, according to Chen Da, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planner. For medical masks, the rate has gone up to 87 percent.

Courier companies are also resuming service Monday as they are essential to meet people's daily needs and guarantee the delivery of resources for epidemic control.

Logistics companies are expected to restore over 40 percent of their normal handling capacity by mid-February and continue to increase the capacity according to the development of the epidemic outbreak, according to the State Post Bureau.

For other sectors, production is recommencing in a steady but more gradual manner as both authorities and entrepreneurs are cautious over the novel coronavirus epidemic which has killed 908 and infected more than 40,000 on the Chinese mainland by Sunday.

In Shanghai, the latest official survey showed that more than 80 percent of the local manufacturing companies are willing to resume work, of which about 70 percent have already done so.

Meanwhile, 80 percent of Shanghai's software and information service enterprises have returned to work, and 70 percent of their employees have chosen to work from home using telecommuting and video teleconference services to avoid infection.

Wu Jinzhong, head of eyewear maker Roring Industries in China's southeastern Fujian Province, said only half of his 900 employees would resume work Monday.

"We advised workers outside the province not to rush back, while local employees need to be investigated whether they have traveled out of town in the past two weeks," he said.

Wu said he has also increased spending to prevent the disease, including providing larger workspaces and essential protection materials like face masks.

To support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in work resumption, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has pledged to help with the supply and transportation of raw materials as well as protective gear like masks and body temperature detectors.

Local governments are encouraged to reduce or waive taxes and administrative fees on certain SMEs, increase subsidies to corporate training programs and extend the payment deadline for their electricity and gas bills to back them in harsh times, said the MIIT.

Likewise, local governments are ordered to take measures to help foreign-funded companies resume production and operation in an orderly manner.

Particular support shall go to large foreign investment projects, according to the commerce ministry, which called for coordinated efforts to solve their difficulties and minimize the impacts of the epidemic.

Now with the country heading back to work, many are confident that the potential economic blow brought by the national production halt is expected to be only a short-term, one-off hit against China's solid economic foundation.

The epidemic might disturb economic activities in the first quarter of this year, but the economy is likely to steady shortly after the epidemic is contained, as the unleashing of pent-up demands will make up for previous weak economic performance, said Pan Gongsheng, vice governor of China's central bank.

 

北京,2月10日(新华社)——随着数百万人在长假后的周一返回工作岗位,中国当局正在小心地平衡控制新型冠状病毒的流行和最小化其对经济的影响。


在上周末发布的一份通知中,国务院敦促采取措施保护工人免受感染,同时尽快恢复生产。


提供防疫用品和医疗物资、生活必需品等服务的公司是首批恢复工作的公司,它们已经开始全力抗击新型冠状病毒疫情。


该病毒于去年12月在中国中部城市武汉首次被发现。由于很容易在人与人之间传播,它使人们呆在室内,导致人们对口罩和护目镜等防护设备的需求急剧增加。


国家发改委官员陈达表示,截至周五,全国口罩产能已恢复约73%。对于医用口罩,这一比例已经上升到87%。


快递公司也在周一恢复了服务,因为他们必须满足人们的日常需求,并保证运送防疫资源。


据国家邮政局表示,到2月中旬,物流公司有望恢复超过40%的正常处理能力,并根据疫情的发展继续增加处理能力。


其它行业的生产正在以一种稳定但更为渐进的方式恢复,因为有关部门和企业都对新型冠状病毒疫情保持谨慎。截至周日,中国大陆已有908人死于这种病毒,逾4万人感染。


在上海,最新的官方调查显示,超过80%的当地制造企业愿意恢复工作,其中约70%已经这样做了。


与此同时,上海80%的软件和信息服务企业已经重返工作岗位,70%的员工选择在家办公,使用远程办公和视频会议服务来避免感染。


中国东南部福建省的眼镜制造商罗林工业(Roring Industries)的负责人吴晋中说,他的900名员工中只有一半人会在周一复工。


他说:“我们建议省外的工人不要匆忙返乡,而当地的雇员需要接受调查,看他们是否在过去两周内出了城。”


吴说,他还增加了预防这种疾病的开支,包括提供更大的工作空间和必要的防护材料,如口罩。


为了支持中小企业恢复生产,工业和信息化部承诺提供原材料和口罩、体温检测仪等防护装备的供应和运输。


工信部表示,鼓励地方政府降低或免除某些中小企业的税收和行政费用,增加企业培训项目的补贴,延长电费和煤气费的支付期限,以支持它们度过艰难时期。


要求地方政府采取措施,帮助外资企业有序恢复生产经营。


商务部表示,对大型外商投资项目应给予特别支持,并呼吁协调努力解决这些项目的困难,将疫情影响降到最低。


如今,随着中国重返工作岗位,许多人相信,停产带来的潜在经济打击,预计只是对中国坚实经济基础的短期、一次性打击。


中国央行副行长潘功胜表示,今年第一季度,疫情可能会干扰经济活动,但疫情得到控制后,经济可能会很快企稳,因为释放被压抑的需求将弥补此前经济表现疲弱的影响。

 

来自: xinhua