Li calls for leaner, more responsible government

Updated: 2014-03-06 08:21

By An Baijie (China Daily)

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Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday that governments at all levels should continue to practice frugality, reduce waste and tighten their belts.

Government spending on overseas visits, official vehicles and receptions - known as the "three public consumptions" - needs to be further reduced, Li said.

He made the remarks while delivering a report on the work of the government during the annual session of the National People's Congress that opened on Wednesday.

Li stressed that the construction of new government buildings and the renovation and expansion of existing government buildings are prohibited.

"The total number of government employees is to be reduced," Li said.

According to the report, reform of the system for using official vehicles will be launched this year.

Last year, spending on overseas visits, official vehicles and receptions was reduced by 35 percent by central government bodies and 26 percent by provincial-level governments.

The government has fully implemented the Party's eight-point decision on improving work style and conducted a campaign to establish closer ties with the people last year, Li said.

The eight-point decision, put forward by the Communist Party of China Central Committee in December 2012, requires government officials to clean up undesirable work styles, including formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance.

Statistics from the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection showed that 30,420 officials were punished by disciplinary authorities for violating the eight-point decision last year.

"We will energetically build a system for combating corruption and upholding integrity, resolutely investigate corruption cases and penalize offenders without mercy in accordance with the law," Li said.

Government at all levels should release their budgets and final accounts to the public, and budgets released by government bodies should include details down to basic, regular and project expenditures, the premier said.

"We will ensure the transparency of public finances and make it easy for people to understand and oversee it," Li said.

In particular, all public spending on overseas visits, official vehicles and receptions should be made public, Li added.

According to the report, the government will comprehensively audit the revenue from the sale of land-use rights and how the money is used. Meanwhile, farmland protection will also be audited this year.

The results of the audits will be made public, Li said.

"We will make our operations more open, improve the spokesperson system and respond promptly to people's concerns," Li told NPC deputies.

The government will improve decision-making, enforcement and oversight mechanisms and advance reforms of the government procurement of services.

"Our government is a government of the people," Li said. "In all our work, we should fully reflect their aspirations and be completely open to their oversight."

The premier also vowed to raise the competence of public servants and improve their overall performance.

"All civil servants must put people's interests first and perform their duties honestly, diligently and faithfully," Li said.

The government should speed up the establishment of a law-based, innovative and clean government, enhance its credibility and law-enforcement capacity and strive to provide high-quality and efficient services to the people.

"We must rely fully on the people and break mental shackles and vested interests with great determination," Li said.

The premier's report was discussed by NPC deputies on Wednesday afternoon, with many deputies supporting the measures on clean governance.