State Council cuts approval procedures

Updated: 2013-08-22 01:30

By ZHAO LEI (China Daily)

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Central government move aims to curb abuse of power by local officials

The central government announced on Wednesday a housekeeping move that will reduce the number of administrative procedures and streamline approval processes at all levels of government.

In a statement by the State Council, the move will further boost reforms in the structure of governments and remove government hindrances on enterprises.

The State Council, led by Premier Li Keqiang, who took office in March, has been striving to curb the misuse of power by local authorities and has abolished a long list of approval requirements as well as government-issued awards.

In the announcement, strict standards must be used in setting new approval requirements for investments by enterprises, for products, and for qualification processes, according to the Wednesday statement released after a State Council meeting presided over by the premier.

Authorities should also not set approval requirements in industries where a market can properly govern itself. Approval requirements in establishing technical standards, industry criteria or methods of how to manage a company, the statement said, should be avoided.

It also added that private capital should be given more access to sectors that are tightly controlled by the government or State-owned companies.

If it is necessary to create a new approval requirement, the local government must check if it is legitimate, necessary, reasonable and has already solicited the public's opinion.

The statement said public hearings must represent "the true voices of the people and avoid being rubber stamps for officials".

Government departments should periodically assess public approval procedures and revise or abolish outdated ones.

The State Council asked that authorities at all levels to strengthen their management and supervision of approval procedures.

It said unnecessary approval requirements disguised as registrations, annual tests or instructions must be rectified.

Authorities are also forbidden to create new claims for the establishment of approval procedures.

The State Council also canceled 76 awards set by government departments.

Wu Hui, an associate professor of governance at the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said the measures to control authorities' power shows the central government's determination to deepen structural reforms.

"(Li) is fully aware that the government's duty is to serve the public and enterprises and should never govern beyond its power," he said.

"The more power authorities have, the more likely they will use it to pursue interests for themselves."

Wu said the ultimate solution is to enhance supervision and scrutiny through the People's Congress and with the public's help.

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