China's first ever hearing on price setting at the central government level scheduled for this month is proof that the rule of law is upheld in the country, a senior official said Sunday.
Wang Yang, deputy minister in charge of the State Development Planning Commission (SDPC), told a press conference that SDPC will hold a government-sponsored hearing on setting prices of railway tickets January 12. The discussion will focus on the pros and cons of raising ticket prices during the peak time of passenger transport around the Chinese Lunar New Year.
Public input on pricing is a new concept for Chinese, Wang said. It's being done now to involve common people or interested parties in the decision-making process of the government, he said.
More than 100 million people travel by train throughout China during the holiday every year, producing the largest seasonal rail passenger traffic in the world.
China enacted the Price Law in 1998, introducing the idea of public hearings into the process of price-setting by the government. In August 2001, interim regulations of hearings on government decision on prices were put in force. And last October, SDPC released a list of price items that are subject to hearings.
Wang said 33 delegates will participate in the January 12 hearing on railway ticket prices. Included in the group will be 12 representatives of the general public along with employees of the railway transport system, government officials, scholars and legislators.
If the majority of the delegates reject the further price hikes,the Ministry of Railways will abandon its plan to raise ticket prices.
(Xinhua News Agency January 7, 2002)