China / Government

Investment approval process to be streamlined

By Wang Yanfei ( Updated: 2016-05-17 15:21

Liu Shijun, CEO of a private construction company based in Zhengzhou, Henan province, will soon be able to benefit from a new policy that makes getting approval for new projects easier.

"It used to be a headache to get approval from officials before the construction project started," he said. "It might take half a year or longer to get feedback after the application was submitted, if you have no close relationship with local officials."

Liu's complaint was one of the key points discussed during last week's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, who described such obstructions to progress as "getting stuck on the last mile".

To gain construction approval, a number of assessments must first be carried out including an environmental impact study, a safety facilities overview and a seismic hazards report. Liu regarded these as "unnecessary".

Because of the delays, some private companies that wish to start construction projects in distant rural places will take risks and begin work before getting approval, which has led to deadly accidents, Liu added.

To solve the issue, the nation's top economic regulator pledged on Friday to take measures that will reduce the number of items that are required to be approved and to simplify procedures, as part of efforts to streamline administration and help create a better investment environment.

"Items for approval will be reduced from 65 to 42, among which 24 items involving planning permission and municipal facility construction will be combined and reduced to eight items," said Xu Kunlin, deputy secretary-general of the National Development and Reform Commission.

Items to be canceled are those without legal grounds that can be solved through soliciting opinions, according to Luo Guosan, deputy head of NDRC's fixed-asset investment department.

Xu said the government would further simplify procedures by allowing firms to submit some applications online instead of in person.

"The government will also improve regulations and strengthen training of local officials," said Xu.

Chi Fulin, director of the China Institute for Reform and Development, expected the efforts to improve market vitality by reducing private enterprises' costs, at the time when the private sector has become a key part of the economy.

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