SCIO briefing on fiscal policies to control the novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) outbreak

A press conference was held Friday morning on China’s fiscal policies to support the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus-related pneumonia outbreak and alleviate the difficulties of small and micro enterprises in accessing affordable financing. February 8, 2020

Hu Kaihong:

One last question, please.

China News Service:

The financial industry has played an important role in the prevention and control of the outbreak of the epidemic. I was wondering, under the guidance of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), what did the banking insurance industry do? Thanks.

Zhou Liang:

Finance is the economy's lifeblood, which is closely linked to social production and everyday life. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, the CBIRC responded immediately, issuing documents and notices and deploying a series of measures in accordance with the requirements of "keeping two steps ahead." Under the current circumstances, we will make finance play a more positive role. What we have done is as follows:

The first is to pay great attention to the prevention and control of the epidemic in our own system. We have guaranteed and put in place three key components - personnel, responsibilities and work. Doing so allows us to implement all the different types of work needed to control the outbreak.

The second is to ensure the provision of secure and smooth financial services. Insurance institutions and bank outlets are asked to clean and disinfect their premises and equipment every day to provide a safer environment for their customers. At the same time, business hours can be adjusted to ensure that the public can have access to a stable supply of basic financial services. In particular, we encourage more online instead of offline services, so that fewer people will make physical trips to public places and also make it more convenient for the general public.

The third is to provide preferential services for customers who are affected by the epidemic. Banks will introduce preferential credit policies to customers affected by the novel coronavirus, such as flexible mortgage and delayed payment deadlines for credit card bills. Insurance agencies should also give priority to compensate customers infected with the novel coronavirus.

Fourth, we will increase financial support for enterprises and institutions in the front lines of the epidemic prevention and control work. Enterprises and their staff are working extra hours now to produce masks, protective suits and medical disinfectant, so we must provide strong financial support for them. We have also collaborated with hospitals, medical scientific research institutions and enterprises to adopt a series of measures, such as reducing and cutting service charges, simplifying business procedures and opening up express channels. In addition, we are giving full play to the joint efforts of bank credit as well as insurance and financing guarantees to provide preferential financial services for enterprises in the front line of the epidemic prevention and control work. 

Fifth, we will make efforts to provide financial services to enterprises deeply affected by the epidemic. Sectors such as wholesale and retail, accommodation and catering, logistics and transport, culture and tourism and others have been affected more by the epidemic, and enterprises in these sectors are facing difficulties. Therefore, we are requiring that banks refrain from blindly withdrawing, cutting off or suppressing loans. As for the regions greatly affected by the epidemic in particular, we must provide them with more preferential regional financing policies and improve measures for internal fund transfer pricing, so as to enhance the financial supply capacity of areas seriously affected by the epidemic. 

Sixth, we will maintain a stable financial market by encouraging banking and insurance institutions to implement market-oriented and law-based measures to help some listed companies overcome difficulties. They are encouraged to actively participate in currency market financing, moderately increase bond investments, and further increase the number of wealth management companies. Just now, a friend from the media asked a question about a reasonable extension of the rectification and transition period of the stock asset management business, and Mr. Pan gave his answer. We are now conducting an internal evaluation based on the actual situation and will announce our findings as soon as possible. We will properly increase the upper limit of the equity investment of insurance companies, guard against and ward off liquidity risks of stock pledges so that we can maintain the stability of the entire financial market.

In addition, the banking and insurance industries are playing an active role to fulfil their social responsibilities proactively and effectively. Besides strengthening our ability to provide capital to areas where it is needed, we are giving priority to the financial needs of companies that produce medical equipment, drugs, protective suits, surgical masks, and disinfection supplies, especially those that conduct vaccine research, and offering preferential interest rates and special loan limits to them. According to preliminary statistics, our cumulative credit investment in this area has reached more than 210 billion yuan. Acting on the principle of handling special cases with special methods, we established a payment protection mechanism to ensure the smooth transfer of emergency funds. We also set up special working branches and provide door-to-door services for people quarantined at home. For enterprises and individuals who have been seriously affected by the outbreak, we offer them flexible repayment arrangements. Insurance companies also offer special services: quick claims, pre-claims for special cases, expansion of the scope of liability, simplified claim requirements, relaxed restrictions of claims, and improved efficiency of claims. To reduce patients' worries, some insurance companies have given advance compensation or medical expenses to severe cases undergoing medical treatment. 

Banks and insurance institutions also actively donated to the virus-hit areas. According to incomplete statistics, as of yesterday, banks and insurance institutions and associations have donated more than 1.8 billion yuan to affected areas. Some insurance companies are offering free insurance to the medical staff working in the front line. Should something untoward happen to them, they are guaranteed compensation ranging from 200,000 yuan to 1 million yuan per person on average. This shows the insurance companies' concern for human welfare. The youth in the financial system actively contributed as well. According to the statistics, their donation now stands at 80 million yuan. A large amount of medical supplies were also donated for the protection of staff and people. To fight against the outbreak, we also turned to the overseas branches of banking insurance institutions to purchase protective medical supplies.

Hu Kaihong:

Today's press conference is hereby concluded. Thanks to our four speakers. Thank you all.

Translated and edited by Zhang Jiaqi, Li Xiao, Yan Xiaoqing, Wang Yanfang, Gong Yingchun, Lin Liyao, Zhou Jing, Wang Yiming, Zhu Bochen, Zhang Junmian, Cui Can, Zhang Rui, Chen Yinjun, Wu Jin, Li Huiru, Guo Xiaohong, Wang Qian, Fan Junmei, He Shan, Wang Wei, Huang Shan, Kenneth Teh Chiu Soong. In case of any dispute over a discrepancy, the Chinese version is deemed to prevail.

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