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Govt policy moves from past week

Mo Jingxi
Updated: Jan 20,2021 09:14    China Daily

State Council urges help during holidays

A State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on Jan 15 underlined the importance of guaranteeing the well-being of people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and those living in hardship during the Spring Festival holidays.

The meeting urged that people's basic living needs be ensured by guaranteeing sufficient market supplies of products such as rice, vegetables, eggs and meat, while enhancing epidemic prevention and control.

Local governments are required to make arrangements for migrant workers staying at their workplaces and students staying on campus during the holidays, while caring for left-behind elderly people and children, the meeting said.

To better guarantee people's well-being, the meeting stressed efforts to strengthen supervision and to prevent the misappropriation of 100 billion yuan ($15.47 billion) in aid allocated by the central government.

The meeting also called for monitoring people who have just been lifted out of poverty or are living around the poverty line to make sure that those who need social relief and assistance are not left out.

Authorities should also help resolve the difficulties of vulnerable groups, including orphans and the disabled, while providing targeted assistance to people temporarily facing difficulties in life, the meeting said.

It also required that the basic quality of life of people affected by flood disasters, especially those relocated to temporary settlements, be guaranteed.

Utility fees to be standardized by 2025

Fees for water, electricity, gas and heat supplies should be standardized and regulated in order to promote the sectors' high-quality development, said a guideline published by the General Office of the State Council on Jan 6.

The guideline, jointly issued by the National Development and Reform Commission and other departments, said that public utilities play an important role in guaranteeing the economic operations and social development of cities and towns. They also directly concern public interests and the quality of people's lives.

However, the guideline noted that in recent years, utility services in some areas are charging for too many items with higher fees, while some enterprises responsible for the supplies of water, electricity, gas and heat are providing poor-quality services with low efficiency.

The regulation and standardization of utility fees will help to improve companies' efficiency and market competitiveness, create a better business environment, attract social capital to invest in these sectors to reduce costs, and alleviate the social burden, the guideline said.

According to the guideline, any unreasonable fees charged before the supply of water, electricity, gas and heat will be canceled. All fees charged without a legal and valid policy basis will also be canceled.

Other measures to be taken include beefing up efforts to improve the pricing mechanism for utility services, strictly regulating the items that should be charged, providing better services, creating a better development environment and earnestly implementing relevant policies, it said.

The guideline, which takes effect on March 1, aims for a scientific, standardized and transparent pricing mechanism for the supply of water, electricity, gas and heat by 2025.