Via China Daily

Restaurant employees prepare takeaway Lunar New Year’s Eve dinner dishes at Deyuelou Restaurant in Suzhou, Jiangsu province. [Photo by Wang Jianzhong/For China Daily]

NANJING — The city of Suzhou, East China’s Jiangsu province, has announced measures including financial support and tax cuts to help small and medium-sized firms affected by the coronavirus epidemic.

Banking institutions are required to step up financial support for small and micro enterprises to guarantee bank loans, according to the circular released late Sunday by the city government.

The outstanding balance of loans to small and micro companies in 2020 shall be no less than that of the same period in 2019, and the companies’ financing costs shall be no more than last year’s levels, the circular said.

Companies that do not lay off employees can get a refund of 50 percent of the actual unemployment insurance premiums they paid last year. For those facing temporary production and operation difficulties, insurance premiums can be deferred up to six months, it said.

Small and medium-sized enterprises affected by the epidemic outbreak can also have their housing rent exempted or reduced.

Chinese health authorities said the total confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection on the Chinese mainland had reached 17,205 by the end of Sunday, with 361 deaths reported. Many Chinese cities have implemented traffic restrictions and work delays following the Spring Festival holiday to contain the spread.

The People’s Bank of China has said it will increase financial support including lower lending rates for companies affected by the epidemic.

READ ALSO  SE: Short-seller Chanos Says IBM Is One of His Highest Conviction Ideas