Reforms bolstered to sustain growth

2021-4-29 10:08:58

State Council prioritizes key measures to boost jobs, remove barriers and ease access to markets

The State Council has scaled up reform measures to bolster job creation, promote consumer spending and foster new market players as part of broader efforts to improve the overall business environment and sustain growth.

The measures will be key to maintaining China's recovery from COVID-19 and ensure priorities and stability in six areas, analysts said. The areas consist of the job market, the financial sector, foreign investment, foreign trade, overall investment and market expectations.

The measures were unveiled in a General Office of the State Council policy document on April 15, which aims to further transform government functions, streamline administration and improve government oversight and services.

Key steps include relaxing market access for micro and small e-commerce businesses, promoting the elimination of hidden barriers that hinder the development of new businesses and industries, easing the burden for market players and optimizing the business environment for foreign investors.

To facilitate more job creation, the document pledged to further lower the threshold for employment, with measures to reduce the number of job requirements and ease market access for small and micro e-commerce businesses.

To help laborers improve their professional skills, the government will offer more training to individuals involved in sectors such as aged care and domestic services and encourage associations and training centers to provide more apprenticeships.

"The improvement in labor skills has played a key role in solving structural employment problems. It also serves as an important underpinning for the high-quality development of the economy," said Wu Liduo, an official with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

Over the past three years, China has allocated 100 billion yuan ($15.4 billion) to train at least 50 million workers to boost their professional skills, Wu said.

This year, the government will offer tailored training to high-caliber professionals and occupations that are faced with severe shortages. Steps will also be put in place to enhance professional training for workers who have recently been lifted out of poverty, he added.

China's urban registered unemployment rate stood at 5.4 percent last month, with some indicators suggesting a lingering softness in the labor market, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Zhang Yi, an official with the NBS, said in a statement this month that the stability of youth employment remained weak, and young people faced a longer period to find jobs. The unemployment rate for migrant workers was up by 0.1 percentage points.

Zhang Chenggang, a job market researcher at the Capital University of Economics and Business, said the State Council document has prioritized lowering the threshold for job entries. The document has also boosted training for in-demand professions that have a shortage of qualified workers.

"With China's growing aging society, the increase in the supply of aged care professionals will greatly help lift the quality of life for families and seniors," he said.

He noted that the government has sought to amplify the role of the digital economy, a key engine for growth, to create jobs. The government has also pledged to improve social insurance benefits for workers on flexible payrolls.

The policy document also prioritized measures to unleash the potential for consumer spending with pledges to break industrial monopolies and local protectionism, facilitate the resale of secondhand vehicles and widen market access for operators of homestays in the tourism sector.

The government will streamline procedures for setting national standards to enable the quicker commercialization of new products that are urgently needed in the market, the document said.

China's retail sales grew by 34.2 percent year-on-year last month, up 0.4 percentage points from the first two months of the year, indicating an improving recovery from the fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics, a think tank based in the United Kingdom, said in a research note that he expects Chinese consumers to become more comfortable about health conditions and their economic situation in the coming months.

"But a full recovery in household spending growth hinges on a convincing vaccination drive and further improvements in labor market conditions," he said, adding that meaningful progress on both fronts is important for both the overall growth outlook and the rotation to growth drivers that will support a sustained recovery.

(Source: China Daily)

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