Guangzhou to cut investment fund red tape by a third

The city intends to cut at least a third of the scrutiny required to access a 4 billion yuan fund to help enterprises develop investment plans

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 March, 2013, 5:15am

Measures to simplify applications for a 4 billion yuan (HK$4.94 billion) fund that helps Guangzhou enterprises develop investment plans for 15 pillar industries will be introduced within the next three months, the city's municipal government said.

Xiao Zhenyu, director general of Guangzhou's foreign trade and economic cooperation, said the amount of government scrutiny needed for applications should be axed by at least a third.

"Sometimes it takes more than a year for a project to actually start operating after the enterprise has submitted the proposal," Xiao said. "For mere procedural matters, officials should complete the approval the same day."

The city's municipal government is eager to clear away the hurdles as it strives to raise its gross domestic product growth by 10 per cent this year, a rate higher than the 8 per cent target growth for Guangdong province.

Speaking in a press conference yesterday aimed at drawing investments from Hong Kong, the city's biggest non-mainland investor, Xiao said Guangzhou also earmarked an annual 200 million yuan to help investors start high-end businesses in Guangzhou, while 500 million yuan was set aside to fund projects to develop online shopping platforms. Financial services, culture and creation, electronics and green technology are some of the 15 industries qualified for the funding.

However, Danny Cheung, chairman of the Hong Kong Council for Technology and Creation, said he was not convinced that the application process would become much smoother. He said: "I gave up a HK$20 million premium medical insurance project in Guangzhou last year because the application process was too long, too complicated and involved too many parties."

A foreign investment project usually requires approvals from multiple departments before returning to the municipal government, and the whole process could take nearly two years.

Another problem, Cheung said, was the rigid conditions imposed on the applicant. "Sometimes, animators whose creations have received wide recognition overseas are considered not qualified because China Central Television [CCTV] never aired their programmes," he said.

Xiao said yesterday that the city's Nansha district, one of the three key areas supported by the central government to boost economic development and co-operation with Hong Kong and Macau, was seeking to develop modern service industries such as medical insurance, film and culture and data exchange.

Last year, Guangzhou attracted US$4.58 billion in foreign direct investment, one fifth of total FDI for the province.