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Legislatures Become More Human-centered Organs

China's legislatures at various levels, striving to be more efficient and human-centered problem-solvers, have focused on many issues closely related to the public's interests in the past year.


"The legislation and supervision work of people's congresses at various levels are expected to tighten their grip not only on issues affecting the country's overall reforms and development, but also on knotty problems concerning common people," said Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature.


Last year, the NPC Standing Committee adopted nine laws, and some draft laws deliberated during its sessions, such as those concerning citizen's identification card (ID), administrative licensing as well as road and transportation safety, which captured great attention from media and the public.


The law on ID, passed by the top legislature last April, says Chinese mainland citizens under the age of 16 are eligible for ID with a five-year validity.


The previous regulations in this regard stipulated that only residents over 16 could apply for ID, which made it very inconvenient for youths in their daily activities, such as taking flights or opening a bank account.


The new law also helps residents migrating to other cities be free from the trouble of renewing ID cards, prevent illegal check and confiscation of ID.


Approved by the NPC Standing Committee last August, the law on administrative licensing was applauded as another exemplary legislation taking full consideration of the public's worries and complaints.


It requires that government departments set up a special office issuing licenses collectively, so that applicants can save time to go to different places for the duplicated administrative approvals. Government departments must reply to license application within 20days to prevent postponements.


The adoption of the law, which embodies the principle of rigorously restricting the power of government departments, is expected to ease people's grumbles on the red tape problem in the official administration.


Passed last October, the law on road and transportation omitted the suggestion in a former draft calling for all vehicles to be managed by traffic control departments.


In China, vehicles owned by farmers are usually managed by agricultural departments while vehicles in cities are managed by traffic control departments. Some members of the NPC Standing Committee worried that peasants would pay much higher fees for their farming vehicles if they were treated as city vehicles.


Their concern was dismissed by the new law, which stipulates that farming vehicles like tractors should remain under special management as usual and farmers' driving licenses should keep valid after the implementation of the law to save their money of applying for new licenses.


A constitutional amendment, adopted by the NPC Standing Committee last December and to be submitted to the upcoming Second Session of the 10th NPC for final approval, also set a milestone for its human-centered efforts by highlighting the protection of private property, human rights and a comprehensive social security system.


Meanwhile, local people's congresses have also taken various measures to solicit suggestions from the public. Last July, the Beijing Municipal People's Congress took 36 proposals from residents into its five-year legislation plan.


The People's Congress of Guangzhou City, south China's Guangdong Province, also held an open hearing last December to collect opinions from ordinary people. Open hearing has served as a major information support for decision-making in legislation and reforms on government work in the province.


NPC deputy Zhou Xiaoguang from Yiwu City, east China's Zhejiang Province, even advertised in TV programs for more suggestions during the Spring Festival lasting from Jan. 22 to 28. Deputies of local People's Congress also tried the Internet, newspapers and television as new channels to solicit opinions from the public.


In addition, the legislatures also focus more on the grassroots interests while inspecting the law enforcement. Last October, an inspection team under the country's top legislature charged the government as the largest debtor to migrant rural workers. Later a nationwide campaign of retrieving payment for migrant workers was initiated at the end of last year.


(Xinhua News Agency February 25, 2004)


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