Upon taking office this March, Premier Li Keqiang vowed to create a more favourable environment to fully release the vitality of economy by reducing administrative approval procedures and delegating more power to lower levels.
In the months since then he has been as good as his word, and the State Council has cancelled and delegated to lower bodies more than 300 administrative approval procedures; as a result, the number of company registrations has grown by 25 per cent while private investment has stayed higher than government-led investment, with a growth rate of about 23 per cent.
But the key phase in transforming the function of government is still to come, says an opinion piece Xinhua News Agency. The central government&’s resolve to reduce bureaucracy and transform its function will be illusory without the cooperation of local governments.
Like reform at the central level, transformation of local governments’ functions should include two aspects, namely cutting some redundant, unnecessary powers and strengthening their capacity in some fields that need regulation.
Changing their functions is no excuse for local governments to evade their responsibilities. It means shifting more resources to public services.
That in turn requires redistribution of personnel resources in local governments. While the number of staff in some departments has grown to an astonishing extent, some other departments are in dire need of workers to perform their duties. A small but widely representative example is the health supervision agency of the Yuanzhou zone in Guyuan, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, where a total of 48 staff members have to supervise 1,264 catering enterprises, 560 public places, 91 medical institutions and 176 schools, distributed in every corner of the zone. How can it do its work well without enough staff?
The situation is especially shocking compared with some officials playing computer games during office hours. Premier Li said local governments should be determined to strengthen the bottom levels that directly serve the people, while also cutting some unnecessary power. It is reform of the bottom end of government that will decide the actual result of the whole.