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Effectiveness of Anti-monopoly Law on SOEs Questioned
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According to a survey more than half of the Chinese believe that their country's new anti-monopoly law will have little effect in improving prices and services, especially regarding the monopolistic operations of state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

The survey, conducted by the China Youth Daily and Sina.com, showed that 62 percent of the 1,082 respondents believed it would be difficult for the law to be properly enforced.

Since the law was adopted local governments revealed the production costs of various traditional Chinese snacks in Hanzhong and Xi'an in northwest China's Shaanxi Province after producers and stores were accused of collusion in raising prices.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) also named "typical cases of forcing up prices", including dried bean curd and hot pot flavorings.

However, the monopolistic operations of SOEs -- in fields such as telecommunications, electricity, petroleum and the railways -- were of greater concern, according to 51 percent of respondents.

Complaints included the high incomes of SOE employees, garnered from profits made from government subsidies, unilaterally imposed fees and charges, and substandard services.

"It remains to be seen whether the irrational fees for roaming services and monthly rentals set by telecom companies could be abolished after the adoption of the anti-monopoly law," an anonymous respondent was quoted as saying.

The law states: "An anti-monopoly commission will be set up under the State Council to deal with anti-monopoly issues." The commission will then appoint departments to undertake enforcement.

Wang Xiaoye, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said that as the commission had no power to make administrative decisions, the enforcement departments would face massive challenges while enforcing the law in those sectors.

On August 30 the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature passed the anti-monopoly law. They will go into effect on August 1, 2008.

China joins more than 80 countries in adopting an anti-monopoly law. Drafting of the law began in 1994.

Experts said that China's socialist market economy had matured in the last decade and the current market circumstances made the introduction of an anti-monopoly law imperative.

(Xinhua News Agency September 14, 2007)

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