China should reform 'dead' business

Updated: 2015-03-25 16:46


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China should allow market forces to reform the country's funeral industry, in order to break the industry monopoly by removing barriers for private entities to enter the market, a government official has said.

Li Bosen, head of the 101 institute of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, a government think tank that specializes on research into funeral affairs, said in a news conference on Wednesday that authorities should allow more capital to take part in the reform of public funeral homes.

Li said the public service in the country's funeral sector has long been inadequate, and the participation of social capital in the reform could enable more diversified services and increase the supply of public service products.

Li said the authorities can explore ways including establishing joint ventures, joint operations for funeral homes and allow the public funeral homes to be rented to private entities to operate.

The civil affair authority could also encourage the private capital to take part in the construction of funeral home facilities, he said.

Authorities should also introduce a pricing scheme for funeral services, allowing funeral homes to determine the prices for extended or selective services other than the cremation, he said.

China's funeral industry, which is supervised by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, has long been subject to public criticism for confused industry standards and excessive pricing, even though a large majority of the country's funeral home is monopolized by public institutions.