China will tighten measures and mechanisms to curb arbitrary charges on enterprises, the State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Jan 20.
The meeting noted that in recent years, various localities and competent departments have worked hard to overhaul business-related charges. Administrative charges by the central government and government-managed funds have been cut by 70 percent and 30 percent, respectively, and local governments have scrapped a large number of charges.
"The tax and fee cuts rolled out last year, as well as the policy to temporarily cut or exempt enterprises' social insurance contributions, have played a vital role in ensuring the stable operations of market entities and keeping the fundamentals of the economy stable," Premier Li said.
The meeting noted that with the current complexity in the epidemic and economic situations, market entities are still faced with many difficulties. The problem of arbitrary levy of charges must be tackled in terms of both symptoms and root causes, to lessen the burden on enterprises, and strengthen the foundation for steady economic recovery.
Inspections targeting unwarranted charges on enterprises will be carried out nationwide, to seriously deal with such issues as arbitrarily imposing new charges, raising charging standards, and expanding the charging scope and willful apportionment. Violations that cause strong concerns to companies and serious social impact should be disclosed. Self-examinations and random inspections of fees charged by industry associations should be carried out across the board.
Law enforcement in transportation, taxation and emergency management should be better regulated. Discretionary standards will be formulated. Minor violations, first-time or occasional offenders in road traffic should be handled more with warnings than fines. A list-based mechanism, where first violations won’t be punished, should be promoted in law enforcement in the taxation sector. The mechanism on managing fines and confiscations will be better enforced and refined. All fines and confiscated revenue should be turned over to State coffers, and revenues and expenditures will be managed separately.
"The economy is still recovering, and the foundation is not solid. We need to let enterprises feel how much the government cares about their survival and development, and resolutely curb arbitrary charges on enterprises," Premier Li said.
Charges in key areas will continue to be revamped. The new government-managed funds that charge corporate fees must observe rigorous legal procedures. All maturing funds must be canceled as conditions permit, and charging standards should be lowered regarding those that cannot be canceled for the time being. Dynamic management of administrative charges should be strengthened. The charging standard that notably exceeds the service costs will be reduced, and administrative charges that involve general management functions will be abolished.
Oversight on charges at seaports should be stepped up. Mandatory service charges and pricing irregularities will be duly investigated and dealt with, including those in customs declaration, freight forwarding, logistics, warehousing, cargo handling, inspection and quarantine procedures. Revision of related laws and regulations should be accelerated, including those on the administrative punishment of pricing-related violations. Undue administrative penalties should be revised or repealed in a timely manner, to provide institutional safeguards against arbitrary charges on enterprises.
The meeting also urged the collection of statutory taxes and fees in an orderly manner, and ensuring no undue burden is added to enterprises and the general public.
No localities should require, on their own, that previous debts be paid off in a lump sum. The transfer of fee-collection responsibility should not add financial burdens to enterprises, micro, small and medium-sized businesses in particular. Provincial authorities should keep the current method of payment collection unchanged.
Reform on government functions should be deepened, and the procedures for social insurance payment optimized, to expand the scope of zero-contact services. Online services should be made available for business-related charges by the end of July, and mobile terminal services for individual-related items by the end of this year. Innovative measures should be adopted to ensure convenience for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and people with severe disabilities.
Monitoring and analysis of the collection of social insurance premiums should be enhanced, and any problem identified will be dealt with in a timely manner. Oversight and inspection should be stepped up, to strictly hold all violations accountable.