China’s government management is undergoing a major change as the authorities are streamlining administration and delegating powers to lower-level governments. The initiatives aim to build a more efficient, service-oriented and rule-of-law-oriented government.
Improving efficiency to serve the public
The low efficiency of the administrative examination and approval system has long been a nightmare for enterprises as it previously required time and effort to go through many government departments before gaining, for example, final approval for a construction project.
The reform to streamline administration and delegate powers to lower-level governments will fundamentally change the situation by providing more efficient public services.
For example, Zibo city of Shandong province is hoping to improve the efficiency of the administrative examination and approval system by using video conferencing involving different departments, so that people do not have to run from one office to another for the approval procedure.
Beijing also unveiled similar measures by building a “one-stop” financial service to include transfer payment, financial review, government procurement, and other financial services - under one platform.
Publishing a “power list” to clarify government power
Since 2014, the government has published the administrative examination and approval items and the government’s power list aimed at helping the governments at different levels understand the boundaries of the government’s power.
Since 2013, the provincial government of Shandong province has abolished 435 administrative examination and approval items. To date, all provincial, municipal, and county-level governments of Shandong province have finished publishing the government’s power list and list of administrative examination and approval items.
The finance bureau of Beijing municipality has published the list on its official website, offering open and clear financial information to the public.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development has reduced more than half of its administrative examination and approval items - from 25 to 14.
Strict regulation to build a well-managed government
Streamlining administration and delegating powers to lower-level governments means not only building a more dynamic market with less constraints but also strengthening the role of the government as a regulator.
The market economy is not sufficiently well-regulated and an increasing number of new market entities emerged after the reform of the commercial system. This requires the government to transform its management mode and play its role as a regulator to prevent bad money driving out good money.
Additionally, Zibo city of Shandong province has set up an “online intermediary supermarket” to provide a platform for environment assessment and engineering consulting institutions and enable customers to make “eBay-like” customer reviews on the services provided by the intermediary institutions.
Aiming to prevent power rent-seeking corruption, the financial bureau of Beijing municipality introduced an open budget inquiry system for the municipal people’s congress, and added an audit function and regulation platform to its core business system. In addition, it also introduced a treasury centralized payment and budget-enforcement dynamic monitoring system in 128 counties and towns in 2014, for the management of a 4.7 billion yuan ($757.17 million) budget.
Streamlining administration and delegating powers to lower-level governments makes government power more open and transparent, and also leads to a more self-disciplined and efficient government.
“Only with strict regulation can power be held with good reason,” said Han Jie, deputy director of finance bureau of Beijing municipality.