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Govt Reform Aims to Root out Corruption

The government of Changbai Korean Autonomous County in northeast China's Jilin Province is splitting the power between the heads and deputies of five departments to combat official corruption.

The pilot program was the brainchild of the Baishan City Commission for Discipline Inspection, with the goal of preventing official corruption. Changbai County is under the jurisdiction of Baishan city.

The experiment will be completed at the end of September before all local governmental departments will adopt the new system. Baishan city will also implement it at the beginning of next year, according to Wang Jinwei, head of the Baishan City Commission for Discipline Inspection.

Through the new system, heads of five government departments are forbidden from directly handling finance, personnel, project bidding and government procurement - four areas where official corruption are most likely to happen.

Instead, the responsibility of these vital areas is handed over to their deputies, while the heads play a supervising role.

But splitting the responsibility between officials does not mean less work for department heads, said Song Lianqin, head of the county communications bureau.

"But only the leaders themselves fully understand there is still a heavy load of responsibilities on our shoulders," Song said. "During the last three months of the experimentation on the new system, I realized that the new system is both a challenge and something that will do us good."

The reform will require department heads to listen to deputies' report about their work, seek more details about the projects from the accounting and auditing departments and tendering companies.

"Problems could be investigated and solved quickly," Song said.

The Forestry Bureau, the Civil Affairs Bureau and the Education Bureau are also involved in the pilot program.

"Doubtless, the new system is an innovation in reforming local government institutions by splitting the power of government department leaders," said Dong Caisheng, dean of the Sociology Department of Jilin University.

(China Daily September 13, 2005)

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