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Law to make officials 'take blame and quit'
By Ling Hu (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-27 08:45

Civil servants are soon going to have a clearer perception of their career responsibilities and performance standards, as the law-making Standing Committee of National People's Congress (NPC) begins deliberating a proposed law on civil servants today.

The draft law obviously targeted to rein in senior officials, states that civil servants in leading positions should "take the blame and quit their leadership posts" if their mistakes or negligence cause "major losses or ill social repercussions," or if they hold leadership responsibility for major accidents.

"By regulating civil service properly, the new law will take a step forward in the country's pursuit of a legal system that can effectively oversee administrative power," Mo Yuchuan, a professor of public law at Beijing's acclaimed Renmin University of China, told China Daily yesterday.

China introduced its civil servant system in 1993, when the central government issued a provisional decree to regulate civil servants' performances. The proposed law, with more precise rules, is going to be the first statute to rule the 5 million or so civil servants nationwide.

There are elaborate disciplines in the draft. Among the list of punishable activities are: practising fraud, getting involved in pornography, drug-taking, gambling, or superstition, opening businesses or committing other money-making jobs on the sidelines.

Civil servants also required to stay out of cases that involve the interests of their own or their close relatives.

"With the new law civil servants will likely feel more pressure rather than take for granted they have an iron rice bowl," Mo said. "This is good for building an administration in line with the rule of law."

The draft has clear arrangements on civil service recruitment and assessments. In addition, it provides precise procedures for civil servants to appeal decisions they disagree with.

As far as incentives are concerned, the draft suggests that more rungs be created in the career ladder of civil servants to provide more chances for promotion. Current rules only provide 15 rungs, with leadership positions fewer, and in some cases civil servants may get stuck in a position for more than a decade.

The draft also provides regular training, and makes clear salaries should equal those in the free market. The government is working on income reform schemes to complement the law, according to Vice-Minister of Personnel Hou Jianliang.

The proposed law refines practices related to the system in the past decade, and will have far-reaching implications to China's administrative reforms, Hou said at a media briefing on Friday. His ministry drafted the act.

It usually takes half a year for the NPC Standing Committee to pass a code, after three rounds of review. The 158-member committee is currently holding a session in Beijing from December 25-29.

Members held group discussions yesterday on a proposed anti-secession law, and a draft law on notarization, the first time a statute is to be created to stop notary abuses and make notary services more professional and accountable.

The NPCcommittee will also review a draft law on renewable sources of energy, a revision of the law on prevention and control of solid waste pollution, as well as two reports by the State Council, on the restoration of market order and the protection of water resources.

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