Railways, transport ministries to merge

By Chen Boyuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, February 27, 2013
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China's Ministry of Railways may merge with the Ministry of Transport this year after the upcoming Twelfth National People's Congress (NPC) scheduled to open next Tuesday.

The gate of the Ministry of Railways [file photo]

The potential merger follows the latest trend of central authorities planning to launch what's called the super-ministry reform, which intends to reshuffle existing governmental organs that have similar functions.

The reshuffle is expected to bring about higher administrative efficiency by means of reducing overlapping departments, shrinking staff and redefining the remaining agencies' powers and responsibilities.

This is not the first time such a reform has been proposed. Five years ago in 2008, similar reform attempts saw some reorganization of central governmental bodies, but failed to bring the Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Transport together to form a new entity.

Accordingly, redundancy in administration failed to improve over the past five years, causing a major outcry amongst the public, especially in travel peak seasons such as the traditional Chinese New Year – the Spring Festival.

The public has widely speculated that the 12th NPC will be a prime chance to retry such merger efforts, since upcoming sessions will see a new term of central government office, which will likely bring changes via bold and decisive reforms.

Sources close to the matter have assured that the marriage of the two ministries is "virtually set," noting that the current Ministry of Civil Affairs and State Ocean Administration will expand their powers and functions under the same reform plan, while the Office of Food Safety Commission of the State Council shall merge with the State Food and Drug Administration and will consolidate to become a new agency.

Procedurally, the Second Plenary of 18th CPC National Congress will deliberate the reform drafted plan before it can be submitted to this March's National People's Congress.

An expert participating in the reform proposal discussion noted the super-ministry reform would fully review the experience of the latest 2008 reform, and "make a resolute step onward in the same direction, without changing the course of reform."

The new round of super-ministry reform will understandably focus on the government's capability in market supervision, raising people's livelihood, and improving transport networks.

While the Ministry of Railways' marriage with the Ministry of Transport is receiving most of the limelight, previously rumoured administrative expansions on energy, culture, finance, and structural reform, have failed to become focal points in this round of ministerial mergers, according to sources.

The upcoming reform will merely conduct what's known as "surgical operations" to a few ministries, in order to "fine tune" their functions. The approach has embodied the principle of "prudently carrying on super-ministry reform" as written in the 18th CPC National Congress' report.

"The draft has been completed, but there's still possibility of modification before it's submitted," said an expert closely to the matter, who noted the second plenary of the 18th CPC National Congress is an occasion when the reform draft becomes final.

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