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China to Maintain Economic Growth While Combating SARS

       An executive meeting of the State Council held in May worked out measures to maintain economic growth during the fight against SARS.
       At the meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, the State Development and Reform Commission delivered a report on improving the economic work during the fight against SARS. Participants agreed that the relationship between the fight against SARS and economic development should be appropriately handled and that equal importance should be attached to SARS prevention and control and economic construction, in a bid to maintain the steady development of the national economy and reduce the losses caused by SARS to a minimum.
       The meeting stated that the nation should pool efforts in the following aspects to ensure economic progress while going all out to combat SARS:
       --Maintaining the steady development of agricultural production, with focus on spring plowing and summer harvesting. Readjustment of rural economic structure should be accelerated and every possible way should be tried to increase the income of farmers.
       --Increasing investment and readjusting investment structure. The construction speed of major engineering projects should be quickened.
       --Fostering new consumption hot spots and economic growth points. Policies on the auto industry and auto consumption should be worked out quickly, and the supply of ordinary and low-cost housing should be increased.
       --Striving to increase foreign trade exports and foreign capital utilization. Inspection and quarantine of export commodities should be strengthened.
       --Offering favorable policies to affected sectors. Support will be granted to such severely affected sectors as civil aviation, tourism, catering, commerce, trade and taxi service by means of administrative fee reduction or exemption and favorable fiscal and tax policies.
       --Increasing revenue and reducing expenditure. To this end, the structure of financial expenditure will be rationally readjusted.
       --Improving the employment work and social security. Enterprises in SARS affected areas are not permitted to dismiss their employees at will, and endeavors are called for to stabilize the employment situation.
       --Maintaining normal production and living order. All localities and departments should adopt effective measures to ensure the smooth transportation of key materials and daily necessities. The normal operation of key departments and enterprises related to telecommunications, electric power, communications, urban gas and running water supply, bank settlement and securities exchange should be guaranteed.
       The meeting also called on all localities and departments to intensify economic forecasting and monitoring, timely handle and solve problems cropping up in the epidemic prevention and control work and in economic construction, and strive to maintain the sustained and fairly rapid development of the national economy and fulfill the set targets for this year's socioeconomic progress.

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