Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Coordinated actions for reform

By Klaus Rohland (China Daily) Updated: 2013-11-08 08:18

To get there, reforms are needed to strengthen the foundations for a market-based economy by redefining the role of government, reforming and restructuring State-owned enterprises and banks, promoting competition, and deepening reforms in the land, labor, and financial markets.

The role of the government will need to shift to enhance the allocation of resources, protect the environment, and reduce risks and uncertainties. A focus on further reforms of State-owned enterprises, by introducing modern corporate governance practices, and on private sector development and fewer barriers to entry and exit will be crucial parts of this shift.

Commercializing the banking system, gradually allowing market-determined interest rates, deepening the capital market, and developing the legal and supervisory infrastructure, would ensure financial stability and efficiency. While encouraging green development and increased efficiency of resource use would not only improve the level of people's well-being and sustain rapid growth, it would also address China's manifold environmental challenges. Policies to reduce urban sprawl and encourage better spatial design, to improve connectivity within and between cities, would reduce energy use and congestion in cities. Managing the existing urban land better should also take precedence over acquiring new urban land.

Urbanization should be people centered and so provide equal access for all residents to similar levels of public services. The reform of the household registration system is central to overcoming the large rural-urban difference in access to jobs, key public services, and social protection. To make it truly inclusive, there needs to be more and better quality public services to underserved rural areas and to migrants to provide access from early childhood to tertiary education institutions, and from primary healthcare to care for the elderly.

Rural land institutions need to be reformed to protect farmers' rights and increase the efficiency of land use, and the policies for the acquisition of rural land for urban use must be thoroughly overhauled to prevent urban sprawl, reduce local government dependency on land-related revenues, and address a frequent cause of complaint. And along the way, a rural development strategy is needed to make sure that no one is left behind and that agriculture production in line with the needs of China's people.

Of course, reforms require financial resources. China can finance the proposed changes through strengthening of its fiscal system. Measures to this effect should include mobilizing additional fiscal resources to meet rising budgetary demands and compensation for lower revenues from undesirable land conversion; reallocation of spending toward social and environmental objectives; and ensuring that budgetary resources available at different levels of government are aligned with expenditure responsibilities, and distributed in an equitable way to provide the standards for public services China sees fit for all its citizens.

The envisaged policy changes are all interrelated and require an approach whereby the numerous actions and policy changes are coordinated and monitored to maximize consistency and outcomes, and to manage sequencing over time.

The author is World Bank country director for China.

(China Daily 11/08/2013 page9)

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Most Viewed Today's Top News
New type of urbanization is in the details