New hopes for overdue reform
Updated: 2013-12-23 19:00
By Li Yang (chinadaily.com.cn)
The government is obliged to provide all citizens with equal basic public services regardless of the location of their household registration, says an article in the 21st Century Business Herald. Excerpts:
The Public Security Ministry has indicated a new household registration system will be established by 2020 based on people’s legal residence and stable jobs.
City governments should make their own household registration application regulations to grant legal household registration to qualified migrant workers first and then provide them with citizen benefits step by step.
According to the reform plan of the Third Plenum of the Communist Party of China’s 18th Central Committee, the big cities will exert tight controls on their household registration applications for newcomers, given the already huge populations and limited natural resources in the cities.
It is easier for migrant workers to apply for household registrations in middle and small-scale cities and towns, together with the citizen benefits pinned to the registration.
The crux of the reform is that city governments must conduct thorough research on their revenue and city conditions to formulate the application criteria and calculate how many new citizens they can afford over a certain period of time, in case of local government financial crises caused by a rising demand for welfare funds.
As support measures for the reform, the central government should provide every urban and rural resident with an equal basic welfare package. Because of the obvious welfare gap between the two kinds of residents, the basic welfare package should mainly target the latter group.
The central government should also grant local governments more legal means of raising funds and tax revenue from new tax categories.
That the central government vowed to give farmers more property income from their collective ownership of land should also be regarded as an important reform relevant to the household registration reform, because that property income can lessen the farmers’ welfare gap compared with their city counterparts.
New citizens not only require benefits, but are also laborers, taxpayers and consumers, and only incapable governments regard potential new citizens as financial burdens.