Graft hurts as non-state firms double revenue

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 December, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 December, 2000, 12:00am

The revenue of China's private companies has more than doubled in the past three years, but they still face illegal fees and taxes and discrimination in access to bank loans, a national survey found.

The China Business Times yesterday published the results of the fourth survey of private firms conducted by the United Front Department of the Communist Party, the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce and the China Private Business Economic Research Society.

It canvassed 3,600 firms, accounting for 2.4 per cent of the country's 1.5 million private businesses, and received 3,073 valid replies. Beijing defines a 'private firm' as employing eight people or more.

According to official figures, the revenue of these firms at the end of last year reached 714.94 billion yuan (about HK$669.18 billion), more than double the 309.7 billion at the end of 1997, with retail sales also more than doubling to 419.14 billion yuan from 185.47 billion, and registered capital rising to 1,029 trillion yuan from 514 billion over the same period.

The number of private companies rose to 1.51 million from 961,000, employing 16.99 million people, up from 11.45 million.

The companies reported a mixed picture of the business climate.

Most said there had been an improvement in access to land, raw materials, water and power and that they were receiving equal treatment with state and foreign-invested companies.

A total of 96.5 per cent reported that the markets for their products were 'quite' or 'extremely' competitive. Their biggest complaint was excessive fees and taxes, with 49.4 per cent saying that fees were too high, 47 per cent saying that taxes were too high and 38.9 per cent saying that other demands from local officials were excessive.

Asked what areas should be improved, 59 per cent said access to bank loans, 56 per cent said eradication of corruption, 52.4 per cent said tax policy, 39 per cent said legal protection and 38 per cent said equal treatment with other forms of ownership.