BEIJING : China's smog-prone Hebei province plans to allow companies that pay higher taxes and belch less pollution to operate close to or even at their normal production rate on heavy air pollution days, the region's government was quoted as saying on Thursday.
Hebei, the country's top steelmaking region, has been ordering firms to curb production depending on their emissions and atmospheric pollution levels in cities since 2018, in order to clean its notoriously toxic air.
The province is however struggling with tepid economy, with its industrial output slowing since February and declining from last year's level since May.
To help boost economic development, Hebei is now seeking to amend the anti-pollution measures by including companies' economic contribution in the assessment of how much they should cut output by.
"We will prioritise key taxpayers with high payments, good profits and low pollution emissions to help improve their assessment, so that the firms can ...reduce or avoid shutdowns during heavy pollution weather," the provincial government-backed Hebei Daily quoted a government statement as saying.
Firms from 50 industries, including steel, coking, plastics, chemicals and fertiliser, will be included in the new assessment structure.
Hebei's Tangshan city last month proposed curtailing operations in several industries, including steel, until mid-March, aiming to ensure good air quality ahead of and for February's Beijing Winter Olympic Games, during which some events will take place around 200km (120 miles) away.
(Reporting by Muyu Xu and Ryan Woo; editing by John Stonestreet)