Public Hearings Required on New State Codes

Government departments will be required to hold hearings before hammering out administrative regulations and codes, according to new regulations designed by the State Council to streamline administrative legislation procedures.

The requirement was written in two regulations on the procedure for the formulation of administrative regulations and codes, which were issued by the State Council yesterday.

The regulations also require related departments and governments to release drafts of codes that affect the interests of individual citizens, legal persons and other organizations to the public.

"This will avoid policy making behind closed doors and make administrative regulations and codes reflect more public opinion," said Ma Huaide, a professor of administrative law at China University of Politics and Law.

"It makes administrative legislation more open and democratic," he added.

The Legislative Procedure Law passed last year stipulates that the National People's Congress (NPC) and its Standing Committee, China's top legislative body, are responsible for making laws.

The State Council can devise administrative regulations in accordance with the Constitution and laws.

Administrative regulations, only second to laws in legal efficacy, are widely used to support the implementation of laws.

Administrative codes passed by ministries or other government departments under the State Council and those passed by provincial and prefectural governments enjoy an even lower position on the legislative hierarchy.

"The two regulations, giving specific guidelines on the administrative legislative procedure, are a concrete measure to implement the Legislative Procedure Law and the democratic principle of the Constitution," Ma said.

The regulations stipulate that administrative codes will be drafted by one department, even if the issue regulated in the code involves two or more government departments.

Legal affairs departments will also review administrative regulations and codes before they are submitted to administrative heads for approval.

"It is an effective measure to avoid conflict of interests among different departments and will make the codes more fair," Ma said.

The regulations stipulate that a 30-day period must follow the issuance of all administrative regulations and codes, except those concerning national security, exchange rates of foreign currencies, monetary policy and those regulations which necessitate implementation on the day of issue.

(China Daily November 28, 2001)

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