Let work-style rules stand

Updated: 2013-04-03 07:15

(China Daily)

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Will the new rules banning government officials from squandering public money on banquets and pretentious activities work to the satisfaction of the general public? Will they be able to shift officials' attention to the problems that residents urgently need them to solve?

The country's new leaders undoubtedly expected that the answers would be in the affirmative when they endorsed these rules immediately after they took office.

They set a good example by not sealing off the roads for their convoys and by not displaying flowers at the sessions of the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee and their local meetings. The immediate efficacy of the rules was shown by the plunge in revenues for some luxury hotels and restaurants.

However, it is just wishful thinking to believe that the rules alone will change the mindset of officials who take for granted the comfort and convenience their positions bring them.

So it is no surprise that there are reports that some luxury restaurants become prosperous again with clients splashing public money. Nor that some reports say officials are moving their banquets from restaurants to their own canteens to make them less visible or are covering up the real cost of their entertaining by getting several invoices to reimburse expenses for a single banquet.

It is necessary to show officials that the rules are not just a new broom sweeping clean for only a short period of time.

A mechanism must be established to make it impossible for government officials to squander public money at their own will. Public expenses for government receptions and business trips need to be made transparent and there should be strict rules about such spending. Severe punishments should be meted out to violators.

The institutions that hand out the rewards and punishments to officials must play a better role in encouraging them to cater to the needs of residents and punish those who are apathetic in serving the interests of the public and seek to gain by abusing their power.

Only then will it be natural and instinctive for officials to behave appropriately and rein in their greed.

We hope that the new rules are just the beginning of a series of actions the new leadership will take to place power under the supervision of the people.

(China Daily 04/03/2013 page8)