Private firms plead for more local help

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 November, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 November, 1998, 12:00am

Private entrepreneurs say they are not getting enough support from local authorities despite the central Government encouraging their businesses.

In an official survey of private enterprises in Zhejiang, Henan and Gansu provinces, 56 per cent said the help from local authorities was insufficient and called for stronger support. Only 38 per cent said they got the help they wanted.

The poll, conducted by the Economic Restructuring Office of the State Council, was aimed at finding ways to boost private enterprise. Central authorities believes it can ease unemployment by creating jobs and stimulating demand.

The survey is also being used as a reference for Beijing to consider whether private enterprise should play a greater role in taking up small and medium state enterprises in the provinces.

By the end of last year, the mainland's 29.47 million private firms employed 85 million people, accounting for 34 per cent of the jobs created since reforms began in 1978. The central authorities had instructed provincial governments to come up with policies to help private enterprises.

An official involved in the survey said: 'Researchers found local governments have problems implementing these supporting policies. Though provincial governments promised to cut illegal levies on private enterprises, very few were cut as provincial government departments refused to cut fees charged by their own departments.

'Private enterprises have also complained about lengthy registrations handled by numerous local government units which means bribes are required to speed up the process.' Many private enterprises complained of difficulties in obtaining state bank loans. Coastal provinces, including Zhejiang, did more to promote private enterprise but interior ones, such as Gansu, were slow, said the official.

The survey found private enterprise was still in its infancy. Firms mainly engaged in low-technology industries and had an average capital of 306,000 yuan (HK$284,600). The official said: 'Most are too weak to contract, lease or buy state-owned industrial enterprises.'