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Yao Jinbo, an NPC deputy and CEO of 58.com [Photo provided to China.org.cn]

More support should be channeled to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Yao Jinbo, a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature.

Yao, also CEO of China's classified online marketplace 58.com, said SMEs had borne the brunt of the difficulties created by the pandemic unfolding around the globe, and their failure could lead to spillover effects on employment as well as social order.

SMEs are the main contributors of employment and economic growth. As of the end of 2018, they contribute over 50% of the tax revenue, 60% of GDP growth, 70% of the technological innovations, and 80% of the urban employment in China, according to data of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

However, a sharp decline in consumer demand and disruptions in the global supply chain can easily drive them into the red and even total failure. In the first quarter of this year, the SME Development Index fell 10.7 points to 82.0 since the last quarter, the lowest level in the past 10 years, according to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

"This year's government work report has introduced many ways to protect the interests of SMEs in time of crisis, such as reducing taxes and fees and increasing financial support to keep business operations stable," said Yao, adding: "We are encouraged by those policy initiatives to help businesses navigate these challenging times."

To further reduce business costs, he suggested reducing employers' contribution to housing fund and social insurance, and introducing new ways of employment models like the shared work program to help companies manage business cycles while trying to spare workers the hardships of full unemployment.

Yao also proposed launching both online and offline vocational programs to help train workers better adapt to a new working environment.

"Through concerted efforts, China has effectively brought the outbreak under control," said Yao. "We're confident in a final victory over the pandemic and quick recovery of socioeconomic order."