Li vows to shift more power to markets

Updated: 2014-02-12 02:31

By ZHAO YINAN (China Daily)

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Premier Li Keqiang has pledged to return more authority on investment issues to the market this year, as a method to reduce government intervention and cast off corruption.

The premier called on the government to adopt the "negative list" approach in delegating powers and reducing administrative approvals at a meeting on clean government on Tuesday.

"The list should be worked out according to the law to prevent any new administrative approvals being added by local governments without proper legal procedures," he said.

He especially stressed the importance of facilitating investment, urging for "the greatest determination" in reducing administrative approvals that may impede investors.

"Sometimes governments are intervening in issues that fall outside their territory, and that has increased transaction costs and weakened the role of the market in allocating resources," Li said.

Li made the remarks on Tuesday at the State Council's second meeting on clean government, a year after the first meeting was held.

In building a clean government and fighting corruption, Li said the reduction of government approval was one of the necessary measures.

Last year, the State Council removed more than 330 items that were subject to administrative approval, or has delegated the approval power to lower-level governments.

In addition to power delegation, other measures were also proposed at Tuesday's meeting to avoid the abuse of power and fight corruption.

Li reiterated the government stance that no new government buildings will be built, the government payroll will decrease, and receptions, business trips and the use of official vehicles will be slashed.

Areas prone to corruption, such as the public bidding for construction projects, government procurement, and land and mining rights transfer, will be closely monitored, he said.

He also urged auditors to keep an eye on areas with public funds and State-owned assets.

Information on government spending, food and drug safety, the allocation of government-subsidized houses, and the recruitment of civil servants and university students should be made public to avoid abuses.

"Openness and transparency will always be the key to fighting corruption," he said.

Li Jiangtao, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, suggested the government work out a guideline to specify how revenues being saved by the government can be used to improve the daily lives of the people.

Zhang Jianhua, chairman of Hubei Chamber of Commerce in Wenzhou, a city in Zhejiang province known for small and medium-sized businesses, suggested the government remove more administrative approvals rather than delegating the power to lower-level governments in further reform.

"It doesn't necessarily mean that enterprises can benefit from power delegation, since they still need to go through the whole approval procedure," he said.

Jiang Ming'an, a law professor at Peking University, acknowledged the government's efforts to build its credibility among the people, but he noted that more human resources should be added to grassroots governments to improve their ability to cope with an increasing workload.

"As more administrative approvals are being delegated to grassroots governments, local officials have found that they are lacking the professional knowledge to do their work. Training is needed to improve their working capability," he said.