New rules to improve gov't transparency

Updated: 2013-09-19 01:26

By He Dan (China Daily)

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The State Council, China's Cabinet, on Wednesday announced that the procedures by which government information is disclosed will be improved.

Government departments at all levels will be required to improve the quality of the spokesperson system, and to hold more media briefings to respond to public concerns, according to an executive meeting of the State Council, presided over by Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing.

To help the public better understand new polices and reform measures, government departments should make greater efforts to explain important policies and regulations, said a statement issued after the meeting.

Government departments should make better use of official websites and hotlines to communicate with the public, said the statement, which also stressed that the disclosure of government information should be implemented as a vital part of the principle of administration.

The government will improve its public relations mechanism, making its economic and social policies more transparent and ensuring that the public can "see, hear and supervise" the government's actions, the statement said.

Chu Songyan, a professor of politics from the Chinese Academy of Governance, believed the meeting "sent out very positive signals".

"It shows the government's determination to strengthen its efforts to promote transparency of information," she said, adding that the moves will also help the government to build an image of openness and win public trust.

She urged the acceleration of legislation to expand the scale of information disclosure.

"In China, a lot of organizations, including the Red Cross, State-owned enterprises and public institutions use tax payers' money. The public is increasingly calling for these organizations to become more transparent about their spending and operations," she said.

Chu suggested the government should make a list of frequently asked questions and answers, to allow its limited number of staff members to solve urgent complaints and problems highlighted by the public.

Yang Zhanqing, who has worked for a nongovernmental organization in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, for the past four years, said he has witnessed progress in information disclosure but he still feels frustrated by buck-passing by some government departments.

"Many government departments I've contacted can provide replies on time, but you can't get key information concerning money. They always find an excuse to avoid responsibility," said the 36-year-old, whose work focuses on discrimination issues and rights for the disabled.

During the meeting, the State Council also passed regulations on urban drainage and sewage treatment.

The new regulations state that newly built districts with inadequate drainage and sewage treatment systems will not be put into use and facilities that do not meet the standards will be rebuilt.