More uniform public services
A nurse talks with a child of the Qiong ethnic group, who just had a surgical operation for congenital heart disease, at the Chengdu Military General Hospital.[Photo by Huang Zhiling/China Daily]
Due to the different development levels of various regions, there exist huge differences in the public services people can access, with those in economically developed regions enjoying more and better public services than those in less developed regions.
This has given rise to numerous social issues that need ironing out, and sparked calls by some for the government to offer equal basic public services to all.
The State Council, China's Cabinet, recently published a plan aimed at promoting more uniform provision of basic public services such as education, social security, healthcare and housing. It contains an expanded definition of what services should be provided by local governments and marks a substantial step toward realizing fairer distribution of basic public services among regions.
However, the biggest problem for the building of an all-inclusive basic public service network throughout the country is that some areas lack the money to pay for them.
The fact that China's local governments are responsible for the supply of public services in their areas of jurisdiction means that those governments with less money simply cannot afford to provide the same level of public services as those in the more developed and wealthier regions.
Such a situation has led to increasing calls that the supply of such basic public services as compulsory education, social insurance and healthcare should be transferred from the local governments to the central government.
The central government has increased efforts to push for the redistribution of fiscal resources and spending among central and local governments in recent years, and the latest move by the State Council may be a signal the central government intends to undertake more responsibilities for the supply of basic public services.
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