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New ministry can revitalize rural areas

China Daily | Updated: 2018-03-16 07:49
A landscape in rural China.[Photo Credit: Vera & Jean-Christophe]

IN THE GOVERNMENT restructuring plan that the State Council, China's Cabinet, submitted for the review to the country's top legislature on Tuesday, the Ministry of Agriculture is to be replaced by a new ministry of agriculture and rural affairs. Beijing News comments:

Although agricultural progress and rural development are not exactly one thing, the two are closely related. However, in the past, the government management services separated the two and divided the responsibilities for them among many departments, whose duties often overlapped.

For example, the central government spends about 3 trillion yuan ($475 billion) on agriculture, villages and farmers every year. But the Ministry of Agriculture only has a say over a small proportion of that, with the overwhelming majority of the money spent by the other more powerful ministries.

There is much that needs to be done to revitalize the rural areas, which is home to just under half the population.

China has vowed to eliminate abject rural poverty by 2020. Although the pledge is highly possible to attain considering the progress that is being made in accomplishing that goal, the lack of opportunities and resources in the countryside, compared with urban areas, entails more thorough reforms.

The plan aims to consolidate the administrative powers related to agriculture and rural affairs in the new ministry. In this way, a lot of the problems encountered in the agricultural and rural affairs that currently involve the coordination of several departments can be more effectively tackled as they will now fall under the remit of one department.

But that said, a powerful ministry should not contradict market forces, whose decisive role in allocating resources must be respected. The development of the rural areas depends on the free flow of production factors between villages and cities.

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