China / Government

Li turns to blunt words condemning policy delays

By Zhao Shengnan (China Daily) Updated: 2015-04-17 07:15

Premier Li Keqiang has used unusually harsh words to target redundant procedures that have delayed the implementation of policies.

At a State Council executive meeting on Wednesday, he called for greater administrative streamlining and for the delegation of power - crucial elements of reform.

"Some policies that were approved by executive meetings of the State Council cannot be implemented in a timely fashion as they were held back by lower-ranking functionaries (in ministries)," Li said, according to the council's website on Thursday.

"Isn't it a waste of time?" Li said as he interrupted a person attending the meeting who said that policies made at previous executive meetings had not yet been implemented as the drafts were still awaiting signatures from government departments.

"You ministers attended those meetings and did not express different opinions at the time. Should division chiefs (in ministries) act as gatekeepers to our policies?" Li asked.

He said that policies were made after long-term studies by the central authorities, but procedures to implement them took a year, adding, "Isn't it a joke?"

He called for simplified measures and for delegation of power to lower levels, saying such reform first requires "self-revolution" by the government.

Streamlining measures and delegating power have been high on Li's agenda as the nation deepens reforms and tries to revitalize the market amid increasing downward economic pressure.

The State Council meeting came as China announced that its GDP growth has slowed to 7 percent year-on-year for the first quarter, the lowest quarterly rate since 2009.

In March, Li said the central government was mandating 1,200 items for review to local governments, and the goal is to cut this number by more than 200 this year.

But the pace of implementation has been sluggish.

Hearing one national lawmaker in March describing the implementation of policies relating to enterprises as "slow", Li urged the authorities to go "the last mile" in streamlining and delegating administrative power to benefit enterprises.

Zhu Lijia, a professor of public administration at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said some central policies have not been implemented fully by local governments or departments because they would undermine their own interests and power.

This hinders government efficiency and the country's development, Zhu said.

He added that the central government should bolster enforcement as well as encourage supervision of policy implementation by the media, the public, or possibly by a State Council monitoring team.

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