Shanghai will offer a package of 140 billion yuan (US$21 billion) to help businesses deal with COVID-19 pandemic difficulties.

The package includes tax and rent cuts or exemptions, cash subsidies, as well as financial and material assistance, city officials said.

Other measures include a public service platform that offers free software and online tools, as well as a city-level contest to collect technology innovations to aid work and production resumption.

The companies “are facing serious difficulties and challenges now, especially small and medium-sized enterprises,” Wu Jincheng, director of the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Informatization, said at the city’s daily COVID-19 press briefing yesterday.

The package is estimated to benefit 1 million businesses, with SMEs to be given priority, according to Wu.

SMEs represent the “main body” of the economy and employment stability, he noted.

The SMEs’ work resumption rate, which includes both offline and online activities, is about 65 percent, which is lower than that of large corporations.

For example, nearly 90 percent of big integrated circuit manufacturers have resumed production, with several operating at full capacity.

Catering, entertainment, maintenance, testing, logistics and other service industries are among those hit hard by the pandemic, Wu said.

Financial institutions are offering preferential interest rates and waiving guarantee fees for loans.

Shanghai will also examine and optimize more relevant enterprise rescue policies in the near future.

The commission has developed Yiqifu, a one-stop online service that aims to help local businesses speed up work resumption.

Since May, Shanghai companies have been given access to free software and online tools to help them restart work and production. The tools contain 65 software and web solutions made by more than 50 companies, including Huawei and Tencent, according to the service platform GongFu Endustverse, an Internet industry association certified by the commission.

This week, the commission also opened a city-level 5G application and innovation challenge, asking individuals and institutions to contribute ideas and applications on industrial, everyday life and urban management sectors. The contest’s objective is to help enterprises restart employment and production after the lockdown, the commission said. The results will be announced in August.

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