Coronavirus update from the China-Britain Business Council
The China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) has outlined local policies dealing with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 epidemic, covering logistics, work approval, cash flow and staff shortages.
Most provinces have issued temporary tax cuts and fee exemptions for businesses. In general, there is a 50% subsidy for unemployment benefits, which is valid at least until the end of March.
Tax and social security filing deadlines have been deferred, too, with the usual deadline now being 31 March 2020.
Currently, the four main problems for companies are logistics, work approval, cash-flow, and staff shortage.
Following the escalation of prevention measures on 23 January 2020, many provinces have imposed severe restrictions on travel and individual movements. In many places, these policies remain place. Following the central government’s call to support the economy, several provinces and cities have relaxed their controls and are encouraging workers and transport companies to return to work.
Most local governments require businesses to submit a special application and the implementation of preventive measures before resuming work. In some places, the demands have been excessive. But our regional reports also show that most authorities have adopted a supportive stance towards businesses which want to reopen their offices.
With businesses closed, several companies have encountered serious cash-flow problems. Most provinces have set up special funds and ordered banks to provide financial support in a fast and non-bureaucratic manner.
Stabilising employment is a key priority for Chinese authorities. Thus most subsidies and benefits are conditional upon businesses keeping employees on their payroll, although salary adjustments are allowed.
With many localities still under lock-down, several companies are struggling with a lack of workers. Some provinces and larger companies have chartered busses and airplanes to allow workers in inland provinces to return to the industrial centres in the coastal provinces. Nonetheless, most cities, such as Shanghai, continue to require a work certificate or residence permit, making it difficult for migrant workers to return.
Overall, policies still vary between provinces, cities, and even districts. Businesses are advised to consult local government websites and hotlines for further details.
The World Health Organisation guidance is here.