Guideline tightens definition of powers

Updated: 2015-03-25 07:45

By Zheng Jinran(China Daily)

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The general office of the Communist Party of China and the State Council jointly released a guideline on Tuesday calling for the creation of a list of specific powers vested in local governments - a move designed to press forward with administrative reforms and provide the public with tools to supervise officials more effectively .According to the document, the provincial governments will release their lists of powers by the end of this year, and city governments will release theirs by the end of 2016.

The goal is to make the specific role and authority of various government bodies crystal clear.

Because provincial and municipal governments have the primary responsibility for the administration of local affairs, they are the major targets of the reform, the guideline said, adding that some other authorities with administrative responsibilities will also be covered. In a pilot program carried out in recent years, some local governments made considerable progress in delineating their powers. Tuesday's guideline was based on their experience and applies to the whole country.

It stipulates that the creation of the powers list should begin with a thorough review of existing governmental processes. The local governments should review their current powers and streamline them as much as possible - eliminating some functions, adjusting others and handing off some to authorities at lower levels. Then they need to codify the remaining essential functions into law and publish them so that the public understands clearly.

Local governments should then be ready to receive supervision from both the public and higher authorities. Accountability for violations or abuses should also be strengthened.

Tuesday's guideline makes clear that the creation of a specific list of powers held by local administrations - and especially the streamlining of powers - will be the most difficult task and the toughest part of the process, according to Jin Yonglong, head of the central office charged with regulating the size of all government entities.

After the review and streamlining processes, two-thirds of the local provincial governments' powers will be canceled, and only about 4,000 specific administrative powers will remain, Jin said in an interview with China National Radio on Tuesday.

"For the public, the power lists will work as a service manual when they are in need," said Zhao Zhenhua, a senior officer in the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council.

Based on illustrations in the lists of powers, people will get a clear picture of what department is responsible for processing the service they need and what procedures they must follow, Zhao said.

The public will be able to clearly see violations by local governments, and as a result can better supervise the behavior of public servants, he said.

(China Daily 03/25/2015 page3)