China rolls out plan to transform govt functions
Updated: 2013-03-10 08:44
BEIJING - The State Council plans to transform government functions at ministerial level to reduce administrative intervention in the market and social issues, according to a report to be delivered by State Councilor Ma Kai to the parliament's annual session on Sunday.
The plan by China's Cabinet aims to build an efficient and law-based government with clear division of power, reasonable distribution of labor, and well-defined responsibility, says the report on the State Council's institutional reform plan.
In a bid to offer quality public services and promote social justice, the State Council plan outlines major problems in the existing functions of the central government, and sets the orientation, principles and priorities in transforming the ministerial functions.
"Departments of the State Council are now focusing too much on micro issues. We should attend to our duties and must not meddle in what is not in our business," it reads, noting overlapping in government functions often leads to buck-passing inside government departments.
The official reform plan came amid mounting public calls to boost government transparency and efficiency and curb corruptions.
While delivering his last government work report on Tuesday to the top legislature, Premier Wen Jiabao acknowledged some government departments are prone to corruption, saying the central government is "keenly aware that we still face many difficulties and problems" in the economic and social development.
Wen vowed to continue transforming government functions, separate government administration from the management of enterprises, state assets, public institutions and social organizations to build a "well-structured, clean, efficient and service-oriented government".
Bigger role for market
According to the plan, the government should work hard to address the relations between the government and the market, between the government and the society, ensure the market's fundamental role in allocating resources and let social organizations play a better role in managing social issues.
The plan vows to cut the review and approval of investment projects to minimize the inconvenience and high costs involved when enterprises and individuals are trying to obtain the services they require and boost their independence to start a business or make an investment.
For those investment projects still subject to state approval, the plan introduces a proceeding deadline with simplified procedures for each case, while emphasizing on enhanced management over land use, energy consumption and emission of pollutant to prevent duplication in investment and disorderly competition.
The plan also pledges to keep fewer review and approval items over business and operation activities, minimize issuing certificate license according to the Administrative License Law, reduce administrative fees and charges and gradually reform the registry of industrial and commercial entities with looser conditions.
Better positions for NGOs
The plan admits that the requirements on the establishment of social organizations are too high, even some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) tend to operate in a bureaucratic way like government departments.
"The current management mechanism is no longer suitable for the standardized development of social organizations," reads the report.
The State Council plans to separate industrial associations and chambers of commerce from administrative departments, and introduce a competitive mechanism with multiple associations to the same industry to boost their independence and vitality.
Priorities will be given to the establishment of social organizations in the fields of commerce, science and technology, as well as public interests and charity and rural-urban community services.
Establishing a social organization concerning politics, law issues and religions is subject to the government' examination and approval before registry, so are those overseas NGOs applying to open representative offices in China, according to the plan.
More say for local gov'ts
If the proposed reforms are passed by the first session of the 12th National People's Congress, local governments across the country will have more say in approving local investment projects. But in the meantime, local governments are ordered to follow suit to greatly reduce review and approval of investment projects for an optimized investment environment.
The central government will no longer review or approve items related to business and operation activities that are directly targeting communities, according to the plan.
The State Council will reduce its special transfer payment for designated purposes to local regions through budgeted appropriation, while increase the funding of local governments through general transfer payment to boost local government's fiscal strength to fulfill their duties.
The State Council, or authorized government department, however, can take emergency measures in line with the laws and regulations to adjust the amount of transfer payment should any emergent case happen.
Optimized functional integration
A longstanding problem facing the State Council lies in the overlapping or multi-channel allocation of functions.
"(Such arrangements) have a serious and negative impact on administrative efficiency and government authority," the report says.
To optimize structure, the State Council needs to integrate identical or similar institutional functions into a sole government department, such as the registry of housing, forest, grassland and land, which currently belongs to different government agencies, according to the plan.
Institutions of quality inspection, tests and certification will be integrated, too, while a uniform transaction platform of public resources and credit information will be set up to facilitate resources-sharing and improve efficiency.
To break industrial monopoly and administrative hurdles that hamper the circulation of goods and service, the State Council will maintain an open and unified domestic market to ensure fairness and orderly competition.
The central government will increase the government procurement of services and give fair treatment to social organizations in supplying medical care, health, education, culture and community services.
The State Council plans to establish a unified real estate registry regime to protect the security of property transactions and effectively protect the legal rights of property owners, while setting up a unified social credit code system based on resident ID card numbers and codes for organizations and institutions to fight corruption.