Govt support cheers small business owners


Updated: 2023-01-28


A machine operates at a new energy company in Changzhi, Shanxi province. WANG RUIRUI/FOR CHINA DAILY

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the North China province of Shanxi has maintained remarkable economic vitality over the past three years, evidenced by the growing number of market entities.

The latest data released by the Shanxi Administration for Market Regulation show that the number of market entities in the province reached 3.98 million by the end of 2022, representing a 26.1 percent increase from 2021.

Local businesspeople said the enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and the confidence in the local economy are a result of support from the government and financial institutions.

Ren Feng is a deputy general manager of Jintian Real Estate Development based in the central Shanxi city of Jinzhong. On Jan 4, he took a business license and other permits to create a subsidiary company at a business registration and approval center in the city.

"We registered the subsidiary to vie for a property development project, for which the bid will open in the near future," Ren said. "We didn't expect the approval process would be completed in three days. Everything is now in place, including a business license, a corporate seal and all kinds of permits."

The improved efficiency in business registration and approval is a result of Shanxi authorities' efforts to create a better business environment. Their efforts include transforming local governments into service-oriented organizations, streamlining administrative approval procedures and offering whole-process assistance for enterprises.

The market regulation administrations at various levels in Shanxi, for instance, are offering businesses, whether they are State-owned or privately run, all kinds of assistance for market access.

Since 2020, the administrations have focused their efforts on assisting small businesses because these entities are the most vulnerable to economic uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The administrations hold regular meetings with small and micro business owners to hear about their difficulties and their expectations. Through these meetings, the authorities learned that market exit is as important as market access.

"Canceling operations and quitting from the market in a timely manner can help struggling business owners avoid further losses," an official at the Shanxi Administration of Market Regulation explained.

For this purpose, the provincial administration has released new regulations on market exit, with simpler procedures for businesses to cancel their operations.

The market regulators have noticed small businesses have difficulties in applying for loans, so they have collaborated with local financial institutions to address this concern.

The provincial market regulation administration forged an alliance with the Shanxi branch of Postal Savings Bank of China in June 2020 to offer loans to small and micro businesses. They jointly launched a"10-billion-yuan lending program", promising to lend 10 billion yuan ($1.48 billion) to small and micro businesses in the period from June 2020 to December 2021.

The program was later scheduled to continue, with 5 billion yuan of loans available in 2022. The total lending amount is expected to reach 24 billion yuan by the end of 2025.

Liu Jiaqi, a small hotpot restaurant owner in Taiyuan, is a beneficiary of the lending program. He recently borrowed 300,000 yuan from the bank.

He said the loan has relieved him from many concerns, so he is optimistic about his business in the future.

Meng Ting contributed to this story.