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Law alters national licensing standards
By Meng Yan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-06-29 23:49

A law to check corruption and guarantee protections to indivduals and corporations takes effect Thursday profoundly affecting the government.

The Law on Administrative Licensing, passed by the top legislative body last August, guarantees efficient administrative management and the protection of interests of individuals, corporations and other organizations.

Yu An, a professor of administrative law with the School of Public Policy and Management of Tsinghua University, said enforcement of the law will be a "serious, thorough and institutional revolution" for the administrative body.

Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday urged administrations at all levels to promote transforming government functions and management innovations through implementing the law.

As its latest efforts, the State Council issued guidelines on implementating law-based administration in March and revised working rules for the State Council recently.

The guideline set a goal for the government of realizing law-based administration in about 10 years. The newly revised rules for the State Council demand an increasing transformation of government functions and the establishment of a contingency system to handle public crisis.

At a national video conference held on Monday, Wen asked governments at all levels to focus their efforts on this goal and follow the guideline's instructions and the rules.

He specifically asked government officials to improve administrative legislation and institution building, enhance administrative law enforcement and strengthen internal supervision on the exercise of administrative power.

Administrative licensing, referring to formal legal permission to conduct business or business-related activities, is a major government function exercised by authorities at all levels.

But over the years, hazardous expansions of licensed items, over-elaborate procedures, poor efficiency, and under-the-table, unfair or imprecise conditions for granting licences have seriously infringed upon the rights of individuals and corporations and hampered China's efforts to build a market economy.

The State Council began a nationwide campaign to rectify the situation in 2001. State Council commissions and ministries have given up the authority to administer more than 1,795 licensing rights, and have handed more than 100 items over to industrial associations and other intermediary agencies.

The Law on Administrative Licensing will help consolidate the campaign, said Ying Songnian, professor and director of the Law Programme with the National School of Administration.

The Premier asked government officials to pay more attention to the administrative legislation on social management and public service to help solve the problems that have direct impact on the people's livelihoods.

In China, the State Council has the power to work out administrative regulations within its function when the law does not offer specific stipulations. Ministries and commissions under the State Council have the rights to issue rules and regulations without contradicting the laws and administrative regulations, says the Law on Legislative Procedures.

In fact, the administrative licence items were fixed by these administrative regulations and rules.

Wen said future administrative legislation should put people's interests first, adhere to reforms and innovation and uphold legislative consistency.

"With a clear, objective and stable system of rules, the law will help form a more efficient and transparent government," said Zhao Chenggen, professor of the School of Government at Peking University.

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