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Planned gov´t reform to help fight corruption

Source: Xinhua | 03-14-2008 09:04

Special Report:   2008 NPC & CPPCC sessions

BEIJING, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Chinese lawmakers are deliberating a plan for a government reshuffle, which is expected to help contain corruption along with other administrative reform initiatives.

The State Council proposal under discussion at the ongoing First Session of the 11th National People's Congress involving the installation of five "super ministries", is aimed at streamlining government department functions.

Under the plan, the National Development and Reform Commission will focus on macro-regulation and fade out from involvement in micromanagement of the economy and reduce its examination and approvals of specific projects.

In addition, another guideline document, formally known as "opinions on deepening reform of the administrative system", adopted by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the end of last month, put forward principles, targets and measures for further administrative and management reform of the Chinese government.

The fresh round of reform will be a significant exploration in improving power checking and the supervision mechanism and will result in terminating channels for power trading and other forms of corruption, said legislator Liu Xirong.

Imperfect supervisory and restrictive mechanism on administrative powers allows the phenomena of the abuse of power, gaining personal profits through the misuse of public power, and various forms of corruption, the CPC Central Committee has said.

One of the most striking cases of corruption broken in the past five years was that of Zheng Xiaoyu, former director of China's State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), who was executed after being convicted of taking 6.49 million yuan in bribes in return for approving hundreds of medicines, some that proved dangerous.

In addition, the case of former Shanghai party chief Chen Liangyu moved to a new stage. He has been expelled from the CPC and dismissed from all government posts and remains in jail awaiting trial.

Jia Chunwang, procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said in his work report to the ongoing parliament session that 35 officials at the provincial or ministerial level, 930 at the municipal level and nearly 14,000 at or above the county level were investigated for embezzlement, bribery, misappropriation of public funds in the past five years.

The expected reform may lead to the establishment of a harmonious administrative mechanism allowing power checks among decision-making, enforcing, and supervision, which will be conducive to eliminating the "tumour of corruption", according to Liu, also former deputy secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection

"We need to tackle the problems of excessive concentration of power and lack of checks on power," Premier Wen Jiabao said in his government work report to the national congress.

"Transforming government functions is the core of the reform," said an official with the State Commission Office for Public Sector Reform at a press conference earlier this month.

The government should hand over some functions to proper institutions and perform its due responsibilities well, giving full play to the market on resource distribution, said the official while explaining the new initiatives to journalists.

"Returning powers to the market is a key method to prevent officials from gaining profits through misuse of government positions and curb corruption," said Victor Y. Yue, chairman of the Horizon Research Consultancy Group.

Yue interpreted the reform as reducing government interference in the market and strengthening service functions for enterprises.

"The root of corruption is trading between power and money. It is the market, instead of power, which should perform the fundamental role of production resource allocation," Liu stressed.

Premier Wen Jiabao also urged officials to build a service-oriented government and create conditions to enable the people to oversee the government more effectively.

However, Yue pointed out that whether the reform could bring about a more efficient, transparent government that is subject to effective public supervision is yet to be tested by the time.

The CPC Central Committee has pointed out that pursuing further administrative reform is "imperative" for the building of a service-oriented, responsible, law-respecting and clean government, as some unsuitable aspects, such as excessive administrative interference in micro-economic operations, relatively weaker social management and public services, overlapping functions of government departments, and low efficiency, still exist.


Editor:Xiong Qu