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China pledges boost in policy support for consumer services sector

·1-min read
People enter a long distance bus station during evening rush hour in Beijing as outbreaks of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's cabinet on Tuesday issued guidelines to develop consumer services, including increased financial support for small firms providing catering, accommodation, childcare, healthcare and services for the elderly.

In a notice on its website, the State Council, or cabinet, said the government will proactively use monetary policy tools such as relending and rediscounting facilities to help services companies and guide commercial banks to boost loans to small firms and individual businesses in the sector.

The statement comes as China steps up efforts to meet the needs of a broad spectrum of people in society under President Xi Jinping's banner of "common prosperity", with a focus on narrowing gaps in social well-being between rural and urban areas.

In its statement, the State Council said that on the fiscal side, local governments are also being urged to follow through on related tax incentives, and public services infrastructure projects, with decent yields, can be included in projects that are funded by local government special bonds.

Local authorities are also being asked to establish an emergency mechanism when there's a major disease outbreak, disaster or accident, and roll out necessary measures to help consumer services firms including rent reductions, subsidies and financing support.

To cope with a shortage of services, professionals in elderly care, nursing and housekeeping sectors, the government will allow qualified employees to get a higher education degree on a part-time basis, the State Council said.

By 2025, the number of college graduates in the nursing, rehabilitation, housekeeping and childcare majors would increase by 100,000 from 2020, it said.

(Reporting by Stella Qiu and Ryan Woo; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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