5. Implementation of main fiscal and tax policies and other major fiscal work in 2018
In 2018, finance departments conscientiously implemented the policy decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, followed the Budget Law and the Guidelines on People's Congresses Expanding the Focus of Their Budget Review and Oversight to Cover Expenditure Budgets and Policies, and acted on the requirements in the budget resolution adopted at the NPC. We have enforced a proactive fiscal policy with the focus on concentrating fiscal strength and boosting fiscal efficacy, increased support for the three critical battles against potential risk, poverty, and pollution, weighted spending toward innovation-driven development, agriculture, rural areas, rural residents, and the improvement of living standards, deepened reform of the fiscal and tax systems, and worked vigorously to improve management of budget execution.
We took strong measures to cut taxes and fees. Improving the VAT system
We lowered VAT rates in industries such as manufacturing, transportation, construction, and basic telecommunication services as well as for agricultural products and other goods, and adopted a unified annual sales threshold of 5 million yuan for small-scale VAT payers. The end-of-tax-period VAT credit was refunded in one lump sum to qualified enterprises in equipment manufacturing and other advanced manufacturing industries and in research and development (R&D) and other modern service industries, as well as to power grid enterprises.
Implementing individual income tax reform
Implementing the revised Individual Income Tax Law, we raised the individual income tax threshold and optimized the structure of tax rates, starting from October 1, 2018. On this basis, we formulated the interim measures for special additional deductions for individual income tax, creating six special additional deduction items including children's education, and amended the implementation regulations for the Individual Income Tax Law, which officially went into effect on January 1, 2019. This represents a major shift from a system of classified taxes to a system of taxation that is based on both adjusted gross income and specific income types, benefiting approximately 80 million taxpayers.
Increasing tax support for small and micro businesses
More low-profit small businesses now enjoy halved corporate income tax, with the upper limit of taxable annual income raised from 500,000 yuan to 1,000,000 yuan. We raised the single-client credit line on which the interest income is eligible for VAT exemption from 1 million yuan to 10 million yuan in loans made to qualified small and micro businesses and self-employed people.
Encouraging enterprises to increase investment in research and development
We abolished the restrictions on additional tax deductions for R&D costs for those enterprises who entrust their R&D work to overseas contractors. The policy of additional tax deductions for 75% of R&D expenses for small and medium sci-tech enterprises was extended to cover all enterprises. The period for rollover of losses was extended from 5 years to 10 years for new- and high-tech enterprises and small and medium sci-tech enterprises. A one-off tax deduction in the year of purchase will be offered to enterprises for new instrument or equipment purchases of less than 5 million yuan in unit price.
Adjusting and improving import and export tax policies
Export rebate rates were raised for over 4,000 products in two batches and the rebate rate structure was simplified. We accorded zero tariff treatment to the vast majority of imported medicine including anticancer drugs, and lowered import tariffs for whole vehicles and auto parts, as well as for some non-durable consumer goods and manufactured goods. China's overall tariff level has been lowered from 9.8% in 2017 to 7.5% in 2018.
Taking further steps to tidy up regulations for the levying of charges on enterprises
A number of administrative charges were abolished, including the processing fee paid by first-time applicants for citizen identity cards. We lowered the required payments to some government-managed funds such as the major water conservancy projects fund. Further, we extended the validity period of the policies of temporarily reducing social insurance premiums and lowering the proportion that enterprises contribute to the housing provident fund. These efforts to reduce taxes and fees led to a relief of burdens by around 1.3 trillion yuan over the year.
We achieved significant success in the three critical battles. Strengthening prevention and control of local government debt risk
Actions were taken to impose ceilings on local government debt and incorporate them into budget management, and the work on issuing local government bonds to replace outstanding debt was basically completed. We supported the issuance and use of special bonds by local governments and attained the goal of issuing 1.35 trillion yuan of special bonds two months ahead of schedule. We have improved management measures to put under strict control the risks related to special bonds within the statutory debt ceilings. We rolled out measures for the disclosure of local government debt information and guided local governments in the orderly release of information regarding the remaining balance of debt ceilings, bond issuance and arrangements for fund usage, and repayment of principal and interests.
We further refined oversight and regulatory policies for hidden debt-related risks facing local governments, and further strengthened risk prevention and control at the supply end of funds and at the source of project construction. Intensifying oversight and accountability and setting up mechanisms for lifelong accountability and the retroactive investigation of liability, we organized investigations into illegal and regulation-breaking borrowing by some cities, counties, and financial institutions, publicly exposing those cases. We improved the statistical and monitoring mechanisms and gave timely warnings about debt risk, and we urged local governments to perform their due responsibilities within their geographical jurisdiction and succeeded in forestalling systemic risks.
Providing strong support in the fight against poverty
The central government allocated 106.095 billion yuan to subsidize local poverty alleviation funds, an increase of 20 billion yuan, or 23.2%, over 2017. The increase in funds was mainly directed to areas of extreme poverty such as the three regions and the three prefectures. We advanced trials across the country to integrate different rural development funds in poverty-stricken counties with merged funds surpassing 300 billion yuan for the year.
We strictly controlled financing risks related to poverty alleviation, and replaced loans used to relocate people from inhospitable areas and other financing forms with a unified form of financing through issuance of local government bonds. We explored the establishment of mechanisms for dynamic monitoring of budgetary funds for poverty alleviation and strengthened management of government poverty alleviation funds of all kinds and at all levels. We formulated measures for performance-based management of budgetary funds in poverty alleviation projects, and basicallyachieved full coverage of performance targets, involving around 110,000 projects with an amount of over 800 billion yuan. A total of 13.86 million rural people were lifted out of poverty over the year.
Intensifying pollution prevention and control efforts
Around 255.5 billion yuan was allocated from the central budget to support the critical battle against pollution; this was a year-on-year increase of 13.9% and it included the largest investment toward addressing air, water, and soil pollution in recent years. We expanded the range of central government-financed trials to promote clean energy sources for winter heating across northern China, put in place incentivizing policies for the protection and restoration of ecosystems along the Yangtze Economic Belt, and established a compensation system for fishing bans in key waters of the Yangtze River basin. We launched models for treatment of black, malodorous water bodies in urban areas, and supported the enhancement of quality and efficacy in urban sewage treatment in the central and western regions. We entered 14 trial projects, including those at the eastern foot of the Helan Mountains in Ningxia and in the Wumeng mountainous areas in Guizhou, into the third group of pilot projects under the initiative to protect and restore mountain, water, forest, farmland, lake, and grassland ecosystems. Together with the previous two groups of 11 trial projects, these projects basically cover the key zones of the two ecological shields and three ecological belts.
We supported the deepening of supply-side structural reform. Promoting capacity building for scientific and technological innovations
The central general public budget saw a 10.3% increase in expenditure on science and technology. We supported the implementation of major national science and technology programs and conducted trials on selected programs of a "green channel" based on integrity and performance. We supervised management reform of the funding for central government-funded scientific and technological research projects, launching a series of new measures to optimize project and economic management, reduce report forms and process reviews, and promote performance evaluation. We encouraged institutions of higher learning and research institutes in the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions to take part in the organization and implementation of central government-funded science and technology programs (projects and funds).
Supporting the transformation and upgrading of the manufacturing sector
We promoted the development of smart manufacturing, strong foundations for industry development, green manufacturing, and the industrial internet, and supported manufacturing innovation centers in improving their capacities. We implemented the policy on piloting insurance compensation for newly-developed major technological equipment, supporting and promoting a total of 1,087 projects with over 150 billion-yuan worth of equipment.
Stimulating the drive for innovation and entrepreneurship
We supported 100 real-economy development zones at national and provincial levels in developing platforms with distinctive features and we facilitated the efforts of small and medium-sized enterprises to upgrade the national initiative to promote business startups and innovation. We set up a national financing guaranty fund to enhance our capacity to serve small and micro businesses and serve agriculture, rural areas, and rural residents. We provided rewards and subsidies to regions that achieved clear results in expanding the scale of financing guaranties and reducing guaranty fees for small and micro businesses.
Carrying out the five priority tasks
We introduced policies on further cutting overcapacity and restructuring the debts of "zombie enterprises," and continued to support the de-escalation of overcapacity in the steel and coal industries. Active progress was made in the central government's efforts to address "zombie enterprises" and improve those enterprises in particular difficulty. We redoubled efforts to strengthen key areas of weakness, fully exerting central government investment in infrastructure.
We regulated and promoted the application of the public-private partnership (PPP) model in an orderly fashion. By the end of 2018, of all the projects in the database of the national information platform for multiple PPP models, 4,691 were in progress, involving an aggregate investment of 7.2 trillion yuan, and accounting for 54.2% of the total.
Promoting coordinated development between regions and between urban and rural areas
To consistently strengthen support for central and western regions, the central government increased transfer payments to help equalize access to basic public services by 9.2%, and increased payments for old revolutionary base areas, areas with large ethnic minority populations, border areas, and poor areas by 15.7%. We set up a policy system for financial support to Xiongan New Area in its initial stage of planning and construction, and conducted studies on fiscal policies to support major regional strategies such as comprehensively deepening reform and opening up in Hainan Province. We established and implemented sound mechanisms for guaranteeing government funding for the implementation of the rural revitalization strategy. We put in place mechanisms for national coordination of newly-added cropland and for inter-provincial adjustment of quotas produced by linking newly-added cropland quotas with the amount of land used for construction. We accelerated our efforts to reduce excess stockpiles of grain, refined price-setting mechanisms for rice and other types of grain, promoted development of the quality grain project in all its aspects, and supported the deepening of supply-side structural reform in agriculture.