China announces detailed stimulus measures to support virus-hit economy

Beijing sees REITs as a tool to expand funding for infrastructure investments and rental apartments.
Unfinished apartment buildings in Beijing, China. Image: Bloomberg

China’s cabinet announced a package of 33 measures covering fiscal, financial, investment and industrial policies on Tuesday to revive its pandemic-ravaged economy, adding it will inspect how provincial governments implement them.

The stimulus package, which was flagged by China’s State Council in a routine meeting last week, underscores Beijing’s shift toward growth, after COVID-19 control measures pounded the economy and threaten Beijing’s 5.5% growth target for the year.

To revive investment and consumption, the government ordered localities not to expand curbs on auto purchases and said those which already have curbs in place should gradually increase their quotas on car ownership.

The Ministry of Finance also said on Tuesday that it would halve the purchase tax for small-engined cars.

China will promote healthy development of platform companies, which are expected to play a role in stabilising jobs, the State Council said.

Platform companies are also encouraged to make breakthroughs in areas including cloud computing, artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies, the State Council said, the latest sign that China is easing a crackdown on e-commerce platforms and tech giants.

China will also expand private investment, accelerate infrastructure construction and stimulate purchases of cars and home appliances to stabilise investments, according to the measures.

Capital markets

In terms of monetary and financial policies, China will boost financing efficiency via capital markets, by supporting domestic firms to list in Hong Kong, and promote offshore listings by qualified platform companies.

The State Council also vowed to further reduce real borrowing costs, and strengthen financial support for infrastructure and major projects.

In an apparent answer to the calls, the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges published rules on Tuesday to allow listed real estate investment trusts (REITs) to raise fresh money to fund acquisition of infrastructure projects.

Beijing sees REITs as a tool to expand funding for infrastructure investments and rental apartments.

To enhance fiscal support to the economy, China will accelerate local government special bond issuance and cash support for firms that hire college graduates, according to the State Council measures.

Authorities will also provide tax credit rebates to more sectors and allow firms in industries hit hard by COVID-19 curbs to defer social security payments, the State Council said.

Other measures include policies to ensure energy and food security, and stabilise supply chains.

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