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Zhejiang passes rules to support MSMEs

By Ma Zhenhuan in Hangzhou Source: Updated: 2023-01-17


Workers pack heaters at a manufacturer in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, Sept 27, 2022. [Wang Gang/China News Service]

East China's Zhejiang adopted a newly revised set of regulations to foster the growth of its micro, small and medium enterprises at the annual session of the Zhejiang Provincial People's Congress, the provincial legislature, which concluded on Monday.

Updating a set of regulations released in 2006, the new regulations will play a vital role in further stimulating the vitality of private businesses, especially MSMEs, and boosting their confidence in investment and innovation, according to deputies and experts.

Zhejiang is a major province for private businesses, many of which are MSMEs, said Fan Bonai, vice-director of the Institute for Public Policy at Zhejiang University and a deputy to the Zhejiang Provincial People's Congress.

"With the emergence of new forms and models of economic and business development, the previous regulations, which had been instrumental in the growth of the province's smaller businesses, could no longer meet the current needs of MSMEs," Fan said.

In light of the new developments, in 2021, he spearheaded the efforts in drafting and then submitting the proposal to make the amendment to the provincial legislature.

The Regulations of Zhejiang Province on the Promotion of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, as the document is known, will be officially implemented starting on March 1. It seeks to bolster the development of MSMEs by introducing stronger support in entrepreneurship, innovation promotion, market expansion, fiscal and tax policies, among other aspects.

One of the most significant changes in the regulations is that they now cover micro businesses, expanding the policy coverage and laying a legal basis for future policy support towards such enterprises, Fan explained.

In particular, the new regulations make it clear that the provincial budget should allocate special funds for the development of MSMEs, with a focus on small and micro enterprises.

"The funds will undoubtedly reduce the burden for MSMEs and prove to be timely," Fan said.

Zhejiang is home to over 3.25 million enterprises, more than 90 percent of which, or some 2.95 million, are small and micro businesses, according to figures from the Zhejiang Provincial Administration for Market Regulation. In other words, for every 22 residents in Zhejiang, there is such an enterprise, creating jobs and contributing to economic growth.

"The new regulations will bring great benefits to the MSMEs," said Huang Jianyong, a deputy to the Zhejiang Provincial People's Congress who works for a new materials company in Huzhou city. "It sends out a clear signal that the government strongly supports their development."

The adoption of the new regulations marks the latest move for Zhejiang to further optimize its business environment by setting up a sounder institutional, legal and regulatory framework.

The provincial legislature passed the Regulations of Zhejiang Province on the Promotion of Private Enterprises in January 2020, making Zhejiang the first province to enact such regulations in China. Since then, over 10 sets of laws and regulations have been adopted to promote the development of private businesses, ensuring fairer competition.

In the government work report he delivered to the provincial legislature last Thursday, Wang Hao, the provincial governor, pointed out that the province will make it a top priority to comprehensively optimize the business environment in the next five years, enhance the core competitiveness of private businesses and strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights.

Equally important, if not more, is the implementation of the various laws and regulations, pointed out Shi Jinchuan, professor of economics at Zhejiang University and deputy director of the Consulting Committee of Zhejiang Provincial People's Government.

What governments at all levels should take note of is whether they have faithfully executed these laws and regulations, Shi said.

According to a new survey conducted by the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, which asked private businesses to evaluate the local business environment in 2022, Zhejiang ranked first for the third straight year at the provincial level. Hangzhou, Wenzhou and Ningbo, three cities in Zhejiang, ranked first, second and fifth at the city level.