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China Daily Website

Abolish GDP-based evaluation of local govt

Updated: 2013-11-19 17:04

Construction projects have increasingly become hotbeds of civil servants' corruption and the graft should be tackled through both direct and indirect means, said an article in the Southern Metropolis Daily (excerpts below).

Some senior local officials at vice-provincial level in Sichuan, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces have been sacked recently for alleged corruption concerning construction projects.

It is not by accident that construction projects or land transfers have become one of the most risky, yet profitable, areas for civil servants.

To begin with, real estate projects are the immediate contributor to local gross domestic product and land transfers are one of the largest sources of local government revenue.

When economic growth remains the most important criterion to evaluate local civil servants' performance, it is natural for officials to resort to the fastest way to foster economic growth and generate government revenue.

Secondly, there is no supervisory mechanism for the "Top Boss" in his or her own government departments. It is easy for the officials to seek illegal profits from the power in their hands, at the cost of the public interest.

Concentrating power in the hands of senior officials of individual government departments is a thorny issue to address in the functional transformation of the government.

A popular saying among the mayors now is "manage the cities". It shows government officials regard themselves as the city's "managers", instead of public service providers.

The just-concluded Third Plenum of the Communist Party of China's 18th Central Committee reiterated the Party leaders' resolve to mark the borders between government and the market.

This objective cannot be achieved without an effective power balance and supervision of the government system. Moreover, the central government should abolish the GDP-based official-performance evaluation system and replace it with more comprehensive means to promote not only economic growth, but also integrity and honesty among officials.