China offers $43bn boost to firms fighting coronavirus

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(Beijing) – China’s central bank said it will offer a 300 billion yuan ($43 billion) boost next week to help businesses involved in fighting the virus epidemic which has swept China and infected thousands.

The outbreak, which started in the central city of Wuhan, has brought large swathes of the country to a halt and threatens to dampen the country’s already slowing economy.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said it will offer the first tranch of special re-lending funds on Monday, which it said will support financial institutions to give loans to key enterprises involved in the prevention and control of the epidemic.

PBOC deputy governor Liu Guoqiang said that nine major national banks, as well as local banks in 10 provinces and cities, qualify for the special funding, according to a speech posted on the bank’s website Sunday.

These 10 areas include Hubei province — the epicentre of the virus outbreak — as well as Zhejiang, Guangdong, the capital city of Beijing and financial hub Shanghai.

The financial boost is aimed at helping companies at both national and local level, Liu said.