Public, experts to be in on decision-making in Beijing
The Beijing municipal government plans to require the public participation and the use of experts in major decision-making and legislative actions, according to the Beijing Legal Affairs Office.
"The move is aimed at building a transparent government, regulating the power of government and protecting the rights of the public," said Lin Zhiwei, vice-chief of the secretariat of the office.
He said his office has worked out a draft document guiding government agencies on how to do their administrative duties according to law, which will promote a more democratic process and scientific decision-making.
"The draft document stipulates that the public not only should be informed in a timely way on the contents of regulations, rules and major government decisions, but also have the right to play a part in the process of decision-making," said Lin.
He said the municipal government has already put the full contents of some local legislative drafts on websites and published in major media to solicit public opinions before legislation is adopted.
Office statistics show that a total of 36 legislative drafts have been put under public review between November 2002 and November 2004, with more than 5,500 pieces of public opinion received.
"We indeed received many valuable suggestions and amended the drafts based on them. But a loophole in the previous practice is the lack of a feedback mechanism.
"People who put forward their opinions did not know whether their suggestions were adopted or how the government responded to their opinions," said Lin.
Besides setting up a regular feedback system, Lin said the municipal government would also invite the public to take part in making its yearly legislative plan.
"The public has the right of putting forward legislative motions. It has much more profound influence in regulating the power of government than only participating in the process of making a specific law or regulation," said Lin.
As to promoting scientific decision-making, Lin said the municipal government will set up an expert consulting system.
"With the help of experts, government organs may achieve twice the result for half the effort," said Lin.
He said the draft document on guiding government organs to administer according to law, which is expected to take effect by the end of this year, also stipulates that a regular evaluation system on local regulations and rules be introduced.
"If a legislative document is proven not to meet the public interests, it will be abolished or amended," said Lin.
The draft document also stipulates that citizens have free access to government documents.
In the past, citizens' requests for official papers from a government agency have more often than not ended in refusals instead of information. It was therefore difficult for citizens to know what was actually going on in government offices.