Bigger role of NGOs

Updated: 2013-03-14 07:04

(China Daily)

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Nongovernmental organizations may play a bigger role in China's social and economic issues, but whether they can perform such a role will depend on the establishment of an effective monitoring mechanism and improvements in their operating capabilities.

At a news conference held on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, on Wednesday morning, Li Liguo, minister of civil affairs, said his ministry will push for revision of the country's administrative regulations in order to monitor the funds and activities of NGOs. It will also take measures to increase their openness, transparency and self-discipline. He said a public information platform, which will include their registration, annual reviews and assessments, is due to be built to bring them under broader public oversight.

This is heartening news for China's social organizations, which have witnessed a disproportionate development compared with the country's economic strength. If effectively enforced, the measures will add new vigor to their development in the years ahead. It also means more concrete and operable systematic arrangements to push for the development of NGOs following the authorities' recent efforts in this direction.

In its latest government restructuring campaign, outlined in the Government Work Report delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao to the NPC, and reflected in the newly unveiled government reorganization, China is committed to building a smaller, more efficient and services-oriented government.

The country's new leaders have vowed government functions will continue to be transformed and they have pledged that the market will play a fundamental role in the distribution of national resources and that social organizations can play a greater role in managing the country's social issues.

The government's dominant role in a variety of fields, the economic domain in particular, has contributed a lot to China's remarkable development over the past decades. But such a model is also widely believed to be a source of corruption, bureaucracy and low efficiency.

More power and freedom call for stricter self-discipline on the part of NGOs. With more simplified procedures for their registration and establishment, China's social organizations must face up to the challenge of how to improve their credibility, capability and efficiency.

(China Daily 03/14/2013 page9)