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Beijingers get a say in next 5-year plan
By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-07-22 05:35

Ordinary Beijingers will have a say in the drafting of the next five-year plan for the first time.

Drafting five-year plans is normally a closed-door process, but this one, the 11th in the city's history, will be opened to residents for suggestions and opinions on some key issues.

The Beijing Municipal Development and Reform Commission, which is in charge of the plan drafting, said yesterday that residents' ideas would go into making up the fundamental blueprint that will guide the city's social and economic development up to 2010.

Four of Beijing's chronic maladies - the population burden, energy shortages, traffic jams and unemployment - have been selected as major topics to go under public discussion, said Liang Yi, chief of the development planning division under the commission.

Anyone living or working in Beijing, whether local-born or migrant, will be able to air their opinions through the Internet, text messages or letters, Liang said.

The public discussion, which opened yesterday and will run until September, also includes brainstorming meetings on each of the four topics.

"The first brainstormer, focusing on how to deal with the city's rapid population expansion, is scheduled for August 6," Liang said. "We plan to select around 40 representatives from people who took part in the discussion and put forward constructive suggestions. The deputies can exchange views at the meeting and may find better solutions to the problem."

Beijing has a population of 15 million, and this is growing at about 2 per cent a year. Such a rapid population expansion has led to a series of problems such as traffic jams and energy scarcity.

"Policy-makers need to hear the voices of the ordinary people on how they think about the chronic maladies of Beijing," Liang said. "Public participation will increase transparency in the process of drafting, and will reduce the risk of making errors, especially on important issues relating to the direction of the city's development."

The other three meetings will be held every other Saturday after the first one, Liang said.

"Apart from the four listed topics, people who have anything to say on other issues are also encouraged," Liang added.

Beijing businessman Liu Zhihong said: "It is encouraging news that ordinary people may provide input into such an important blueprint. No matter how many people's suggestions can be written into the final draft, it's a good start."

In fact, soliciting public opinion is just one part of the city's opening-up effort in its five-year plan draft. Last year the city invited bidders worldwide for the first time to carry out research projects on 60 major topics in the plan.

More than 600 researchers from 57 academies and institutions have taken part in the projects, which have laid a solid basis for the draft, Liang said.

He said the outline of the plan, which includes 52 sub-plans, has already been finished. The draft is expected to be worked out in full by the end of this year.

(China Daily 07/22/2005 page3)

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