COVID-19 seriously affects Ningbo economic development: official

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/14 21:06:27

The 400,000 ton-class vessel ORE SHANGHAI unloads at Shulang Lake Ore Transfer Terminal in Qushan Harbor District of the Ningbo-Zhoushan Port, East China's Zhejiang Province. Photo: IC

The novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) has caused a severe negative impact on economic development in Ningbo, East China's Zhejiang Province, which is also a major export city in China, with only about 20 percent of enterprises resuming operations as of Wednesday, a government official in the city said on Friday.

Ningbo is an important part of the Yangzi River Delta and a crucial port city in East China with a population of more than 8 million. As of Thursday, there have been 153 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city.

In an exclusive interview with the Global Times' Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin, Ningbo Vice Mayor Chen Zhongchao said that according to the usage of electricity, only about 20 percent of enterprises in the city have resumed operations as of Wednesday.

"Only a few of the 55 provincial projects have resumed operations in the city, Chen said, adding that "the data shows how serious the epidemic has impacted our economic operations."

According to Chen, the most affected sectors are service and small businesses including retail, hotel, tourism, entertainment and logistics.

"[Due to the epidemic, they] missed the peak season of Spring Festival, and the sudden suspension of businesses operations has damaged their cashflow while they still have to pay costs, which has brought a huge impact to the economic development," Chen said.

The operation resumption rate as of Tuesday was also low, Chen said, adding that normally on 19th of the first month of the lunar new year which fell on February 12 this year, the rate is around 85 percent, but it was only 24 percent this year.

Some enterprises that have already resumed operations also face challenges such as inadequate labor force and raw materials, poor logistics, or payment of loans, which have caused insufficient production, Chen noted.

Facing those challenges, the city government has introduced several measures to help small and medium firms overcome hard times, which was one of the first cities to do so, Chen said.

"These measures include increasing loan amounts, waving interest, delaying the loan payment period, and other financial support to ensure their cashflow, which will benefit about 270,000 small businesses in the city and involve more than 6 billion yuan ($860 million)," Chen said.

Posted in: ECONOMY

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