SCIO press briefing on centrally administered state-owned enterprises' support for epidemic prevention and control

A press conference was held Tuesday morning to shine light on measures taken by centrally administered state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to support the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.

China SCIO February 20, 2020

21st Century Business Herald:

I have several questions for Mr. Ren. I understand that centrally administered SOEs have made great efforts to produce masks and other medical supplies which are in high demand. At the same time, their normal operations must have been affected. Do we have any statistics on the losses of centrally administered SOEs so far? How can the losses be made up in the second half of the year or across a longer period? To make up for these losses, the government has introduced some tax and financial subsidy policies. Do you believe these policies are enough to cover the losses of centrally administered SOEs and fully fuel the recovery of China’s economy? What assistance policies and measures will be taken to accelerate the economic rebound in the future? Finally, you mentioned that the impact of the epidemic on airline companies, especially China’s three major airlines, has been severe given the high refund rate, which imposed heavy pressure on their cash flow. Can such centrally administered SOEs see any opportunities created by the situation? Does navigating a crisis create an opportunity for reorganization? Many players in the aviation industry may not be able to withstand this blow. Does that make it an opportunity for reorganization? Thank you.

Ren Hongbin:

You present many questions across a wide range of issues. The epidemic has been a blow to many centrally administered SOEs, bringing many unexpected difficulties and challenges for their operations. As I mentioned, we have adopted a slew of measures to deal with the challenges brought by the epidemic, one of which is encouraging enterprises to fully unleash their potential by reducing costs and increasing efficiency to make their operations increasingly economical to minimize losses. The exact amount of losses cannot be accurately calculated yet. I am sorry that I cannot provide a precise figure at this time.

Since the outbreak, the Chinese government has implemented many policies offering financial support and tax deductions, not only for centrally administered SOEs, but also for other types of enterprises. Particularly, some policies have been recently enacted to give SMEs more support. We also support those efforts. As my colleagues have explained from different angles, as the economy faces challenges and the situation of the epidemic becomes increasingly complicated, we are taking active action to support the development of SMEs and encourage enterprises to huddle together against the economic chill brought by the outbreak and achieve coordinated development.

Do the circumstances create an opportunity for reorganization of aviation companies? I think that the will of relevant enterprises should be respected. They should make their own decisions in light of the needs of their development strategies and the law of industrial development. SASAC will continue to offer companies normal support for restructuring endeavors. Right now, airline companies are focusing on helping fight the epidemic and organizing charter flights.

Last but not the least, on behalf of all staff of SASAC and centrally administered SOEs, I would like to pay the highest tribute to medical workers fighting on the front lines in Hubei Province. They are caring for patients like family and safeguarding the health of the people. They are among the most respectable persons of the new era. Centrally administered SOEs will continue to firmly implement the decisions made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, resolutely play a key role as the "national team," and always offer strong support to medical workers on the front lines. We will continue to support them during the race against time and the disease as we win the people’s war against the epidemic together. Thank you all.

Hu Kaihong:

The press conference is hereby concluded. Thanks to the four speakers. Thank you all.

Translated and edited by Liu Haile, Yin Xing, Zhao Yue, Wang Shuya, Zhou Xin, and Scott Huntsman. In case of any dispute over a discrepancy, the Chinese version is deemed to prevail.

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