NPC promises more special inquiries

By Zhao Yinan (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-03-05 08:05
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BEIJING -- China's lawmakers will continue to conduct special inquiries into issues of great social importance, in order to improve supervision of the government, said the spokesman for the top legislature on Friday.

Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the Fourth Session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC), said at a news conference in Beijing that the NPC Standing Committee will conduct inquiries into the central budget, the construction of government-subsidized housing, education reform, the development of grassroots courts and procuratorates, and judicial promotion.

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The Standing Committee conducted three special inquiries last year - examining the central budget, food safety and healthcare reform - and achieved remarkable results, he said.

"By directly interacting with relevant officials, lawmakers are able to more thoroughly read reports submitted by government departments and focus more on people's livelihoods."

Wang Zhenmin, a criminal law professor with Tsinghua University, said the top legislature has made great efforts to advance its supervision.

"The Ministry of Finance was the only government department interrogated in the first inquiry, while the scale of the most recent inquiries was expanded and more than one department was invited to answer questions."

He added that another major step forward was the inquiry into healthcare reform in December, which was the first to be broadcast live.

Li said that the special inquiries implemented by the top legislature had encouraged local legislative bodies to introduce similar initiatives.

Special inquiries, which had been neglected in the past, are now playing a bigger role in supervising the government, Li Lin, director of the Law Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China News Service.

Another major task for the top legislature in the upcoming year is the development of a scientific and democratic legal system with Chinese characteristics.

"The legislation will be conducted based on national conditions, while considering, but not copying, foreign legislative experience," Li Zhaoxing said.

As a model for scientific and democratic legislation, the top legislature held an online hearing to solicit opinions from the public and experts when it was drafting the Vehicle and Vessel Taxation Law, which was passed in February.

Also at Friday's press conference, Li Zhaoxing said measures were in place for the elections of lawmakers in 2010, and for coming years, to enact the amended Electoral Law, which stipulates that both rural and urban areas have the same ratio of deputies to the represented population in the election of people's congress deputies.

The previous amendment in 1995 stipulated that each rural deputy represented a population four times that of an urban deputy. Critics said this meant farmers only enjoyed a quarter of the suffrage of their urban counterparts.

China Daily