Departments and ministries under the State Council, China’s cabinet, have responded to a wide range of public concerns during the past week by implementing an e-commerce tax policy, introducing more social insurance pilot programs, making it possible to use municipal transit cards in different cities, and commenting about the employment pressure facing new graduates.
The Ministry of Finance addressed concerns about the taxation of purchases made from e-commerce businesses by introducing a new tax policy. The policy will be applied to purchases made since April 8 and is aimed at leveling the playing field so that e-commerce platforms and traditional retailers and importers are treated similarly.
Under the new rules, retail goods purchased online will no longer be treated as personal postal articles but will now be handled, for taxation purposes, as imported goods. As a result, purchasers will have to pay relevant tariffs, import value added tax and consumption tax.
The ministry said on May 25 that the new rules will not be applied to some specific items until next year, to give the relevant parties enough time to adapt.
The new rules will not be applied to goods including cosmetics, baby formula, medical instruments and special food purchased before May 11, 2017.
In response to concerns about the progress of implementing a social insurance registration program, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said a total of 27 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities are on course to join the pilot program. It said that, by the end of this year, areas participating in the pilot program are expected to cover half of China.
All pilot areas are required to conduct a comprehensive census and report to the central government. It is part of an effort to eventually achieve full nationwide social insurance registration, the ministry said.
In response to concerns about pressure on fresh college graduates, some of whom have been reported to be earning less than migrant workers, the ministry responded by announcing that the average level of income of new grads in recent years has steadily increased, although it noted that income does vary among graduates with different majors and degrees.
The ministry agreed that the salaries of some fresh college graduates are barely sufficient to cover their basic living costs, while other, capable graduates have been able to secure offers from employers that are many times more than the average starting salary of graduates.
The ministry noted that neither extreme reflects the overall scenario of the group. Data from the ministry show that the average monthly income of migrant workers last year was around 3,000 yuan ($462), which was much lower than the salaries of better-educated college graduates.
The Ministry of Transport said on May 26 that, by the end of this year, all residents will be able to use their local municipal transit cards, more commonly known in China as yikatong, in more than 100 cities. The cards can be used to pay for public transit, including buses, subways, taxis and even to pay tolls on expressways.
In the past, they usually only worked in the cities where they were issued.