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Public gets to weigh in on bailout recipients

MORE than 100 Shanghai companies that are in serious financial trouble and may be forced to slash payrolls are expected to receive government funding under a city bailout plan designed to prevent large-scale layoffs.

A list of 127 "threatened" companies was posted on the Website of the Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau ( for public comment through May 3.

After receiving approval to take part in the program, the recipient companies will have their social security funding commitments for employees covered by the city, including health, pension, unemployment and housing benefits.

The bail-out recipients will also be entitled to a subsidy of 384 yuan (US$56.22) for each worker employed, or about 40 percent of the city's monthly minimum wage.

The benefits, including money for corporate training for idle workers, will be available for up to six months for each company covered.

District-level governments are also required to set aside funds for the troubled companies equal to 50 percent of the city allocation, bureau officials said, without releasing an estimate of total costs.

"The (bailout) scheme is meant to ease these companies' burdens and therefore to stabilize the city's employment situation in the macroeconomic environment," the bureau said.

The outlines of the program were announced at the city's annual legislative session in January, when Mayor Han Zheng said local government would lend a hand to companies buffeted by the world financial crisis to avoid massive layoffs and "tide us over the economic winter."

To qualify for help, companies must prove they've suffered a "severe" economic blow, though no specific criteria were issued. The companies must also have already trimmed average staff salaries by at least 50 percent.

State-owned enterprises, foreign-invested companies and private businesses can all apply for funding.

The bureau has teamed up with the six other city government agencies, including the fiscal bureau and the state-owned asset commission, to set up a coordination panel to assess applicants. But public comment must also be sought before taxpayer money can be spent. It was not clear yesterday what weight the public views would carry or when the aid recipients would be announced.

Twenty-one enterprises on the list are textile, garment or toy manufacturers - all export-driven companies hit hard by falling demand for Chinese exports. Among them is the well-known Shanghai Conch Apparel Co. China's textile and garment exports fell 9 percent in the first quarter to US$34.06 billion, though the drop was lower than the 14.5 percent decline in the first two months.


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