Chinese top legislators called for the establishment of a specified and unified legal framework relating to administrative procedures to curb corruption and cope with China's entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
"Governments at all levels are the first to withstand the challenges brought by China's WTO membership," said Chen Dapeng, an NPC deputy from Southwest China's Sichuan Province.
"To conform with major WTO principles including non-discrimination, free trade and fair competition, it is urgent that a legal framework is set up to ensure more efficient, accountable and transparent administration."
At present, despite the introduction of separate laws such as the Administrative Litigation Law and Administrative Penalties Law, a comprehensive legal framework relating to administrative procedures has not taken shape, said Chen Youde, a deputy from Northwest China's Shaanxi Province.
In recent years, in the absence of transparent administrative procedures and relevant laws for regulation and supervision, instances of power abuses and corruption kept propping up.
Thus it is urgent to complete the current set of administrative procedure laws, which will put every step and aspect of activities of administrative organs - except for those relating to State secrets - under the scrutiny of citizens and judicial institutions, Chen Youde said.
One key piece of the jigsaw puzzle that is missing is an administrative license law in the framework.
"Without such a law, there is no clear definition of the administrative license and many existing license criteria are irrational," said Hu Wei, an NPC deputy from Shanghai.
In some places, government departments used the license to charge illegal fees, and as a result there are too many license items and the functions among different departments have overlapped, according to Hu.
It is therefore of great importance to regulate the administrative license, urged Hu.
Chen Dapeng also noted that the number of legal disputes between citizens and administrative organs has soared with a two-digit growth rate in recent years.
He said China's current Administrative Litigation Law, which went into effect in 1990, needs significant modifications to conform with the new changes brought by the market economy and China's entry to the WTO.
"There are some loopholes in the current law and some stipulations are too vague," Chen Dapeng told China Daily.
As a result, some individuals are too afraid to exercise their right to litigation and there are cases that local courts yield under the pressure of administrative organs, according to Chen Dapeng.
(China Daily March 14, 2002)