Singapore markets close in 9 minutes

China cuts red tape, financing costs for firms

People cross a bridge at Pudong financial district in Shanghai August 11, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will cut red tape and permit lower levels of government to approve some projects, the cabinet said on Friday, in the latest measure to reduce the cost of doing business in the world's second-biggest economy.

Twenty-one approval processes were abolished for industries including mining, shipping, banking, telecoms and civil aviation, the cabinet said in a statement on the government's website.

The right to approve some projects including those in the education sector and which involve the use of land, quality-control certificates and radioactive devices will also be extended to lower levels of the government.

China has been slashing layers of red-tape this year in its most ambitious plans for reforms in three decades, directed at giving market forces a greater role in the economy.

Separately, the country's top economic planner also urged banks to scrap or cut some charges to reduce costs faced by Chinese firms, in line with a broader government effort to lower financing costs and support the real economy.

The National Development and Reform Commission said it told15 banks early in August to stop levying miscellaneous fees such as financial advisory fees, and consultation fees for managing foreign exchange risks.

The banks summoned in August included China Merchants Bank <600036.SS>, CITIC Bank <601998.SS> <0998.HK>, Everbright Bank <601818.SS> <6818.HK>, Ping An Bank <000001.SZ> and Bank of Beijing <601169.SS>.

China's big four banks - Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd <601398.SS>, Agricultural Bank of China <601288.SS>, Bank of China <601988.SS> and China Construction Bank <601939.SS> - had already promised this year to cut excessive charges.

To energise China's economy, the government has pledged to cut borrowing costs for firms by reducing the time taken to approve some loans, and enlarging the scale of re-lending and re-discount programmes for the farm sector and smaller firms.

The bank regulator also recently conducted a special inspection across China to prevent banks from excessively charging their customers, an official told Reuters on Friday.

(Reporting by Koh Gui Qing and Aileen Wang; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)