Prompt action should be taken to reduce high administrative costs, says a commentary in Beijing News. An excerpt follows:
Ren Yuling, a member of the 10th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top advisory body, has warned that the ballooning bureaucracy costs China billions of dollars yearly. He cited that in the past quarter century, China's administrative expenditure has risen 87 fold, with an annual growth of 23 meter. China's proportion of administrative costs in the total fiscal spending is 9.13 meter higher than in the United States.
Administrative costs are more a political issue than fiscal issue. The central government has given directions to deepen administrative restructuring: "We should further change the functions of the government, improve the methods of management, introduce e-government, increase administrative efficiency and reduce costs so as to form an administrative system featuring standardized behaviors, coordinated operation, fairness and transparency, honesty and high efficiency."
But as Ren has revealed, the reality is not so promising.
There are many reasons for the high administrative costs, such as ambiguous functions and responsibilities of different departments, poor sense of responsibility and service of officials. But the most basic reason is that there is no rigid restriction on our government budgets.
The current fiscal management system should be improved. For example, the current system has not included all government incomes and expenses, the budget is too rough and general, there are too many budget amendments and the implementation of the budget is too flexible. Loopholes in the public fiscal system have led to the high administrative costs.
Measures should be taken to solve the problem. And as mentioned by Ren, efforts by various parties are needed. Government behavior should be regulated according to law. A social atmosphere of thrift should be advocated. And a most pressing issue is to improve our fiscal management system and increase the restriction on government budgets.
(China Daily March 10, 2006)