The Chinese government is expected to further reform its administrative mechanism through institutional restructuring in order to enhance its function as a provider of public service.
According to the Party chief Hu Jintao's report to the Party's 17th National Congress which concluded yesterday, the government will go to explore and implement a large departmental system that can rationally unify their functions and improve the cooperative mechanism between departments. The report also called for quickened steps in formulating a general plan for government's administrative systems.
Analysts have pointed out that this is the first time that the central authorities put forward the concept of a larger departmental system and it is an important guideline for future government restructuring.
Jia Kang, Director of the Fiscal Science Institute under the Ministry of Finance, revealed that the central and local governments have already tried the mode of "centralized management by specialized departments". The concept of "larger department" hints at further activities regarding institutional reform, he said.
Currently the related departments are actively studying a larger departmental system, which is believed to reduce conflicts of interests and the overlapping of functions between different departments, standardize the administrative examination and approval procedures, and finally, to improve the efficiency in policy implementation.
Chang Xiuze, a prestigious economist from the Macro-Economics Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission, said, "Doing 'surgery' to the governmental organizational systems embodies the determination of the Communist Party to strengthen their social administration and public service via a service-oriented government and abolish the 'chronic illness' of the old administrative system."
In spite of the reform efforts made in previous years, the existing administrative system is still lagging behind. And the setting and running of government departments still carries the obvious character of "direct economic intervention". This system is highly specialized, with a complex division of works, overlapping departmental functions, and it pays more attention to micro-economics than the macro-economics.
Fang Ning, Deputy Director of the Institute of Political Science under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the disadvantage of the existing system is obvious and it's imperative under the current situation to combine different departments that have similar functions.
The untimely control of water pollution caused by an explosion of chemical equipment in Jilin Province reflected poor cooperation among water resources department, environmental protection department and other related departments.
Chang Xiuze pointed out that to set up larger government departments would help regarding the optimal allocation of resources and rationalization of the system in general.
China now is in transition. The big department plan would help usher the country into a new political, economic and social era and the government framework would also be more reasonable.
The trend of a market economy is connection to all sectors that transect a diverse economy. Thus the government should exit from the micro-economic area and gain strength by grasping the macro-economy. Based on many years of practice, the Communist Party of China has realized the rules of the socialist market economy at deeper levels.
The large departmental system is a common practice in government administration of developed countries. "Absorbing advanced global management experience exhibits the open mind of the CPC," Chang Xiuze said.
Chang also gave a detailed introduction on his current research report: the "ESH" mechanism ("Environmentally-friendly, safe and healthy") of developed countries. He said that this mechanism reflects the high responsibility of those governments, and is worth referencing by the Chinese government.
"Although we live in a different social system, we can share advanced ideas on administration from other countries."
Since the implementation of the reform and opening up policies, China has made five major government institutional reforms: in 1982, 1988, 1993, 1998 and 2003. Currently the State Council comprises 28 departments.
Although some analysts worry that reform may directly affect some departmental interests and the institutional restructuring may face resistance, Chang Xiuze believes that, based on the determination of the central authorities and the support of the people, China will surge forward in a new wave of governmental administrative restructuring after the 17th Party Congress.
(China.org.cn by Chen Lin October 22, 2007)