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Gov't administration should be in line with law
Ling HuChina Daily  Updated: 2004-11-16 10:45

A technical review of government decrees in the eastern province of Anhui has revealed some of the difficulties in getting local administrations to comply with the law.

The province's legal affairs office checked about 110 decrees made by provincial government agencies in the past year, and found 60 per cent of them "legally flawed." In particular, many of them contained rules beyond the government's authority.

For example, the province's industrial and commercial administration issued a decree requiring the special registration of businesses that plan to talk about their credibility in advertising. Credibility-related ads of unregistered businesses were deemed "illegal."

The flawed decrees have been rectified, according to the Xinhua News Agency, and the provincial government has ordered all of the province's decrees to be examined by the legal affairs office.

The examination procedure makes some sense. But it might be more important to first let local bureax understand why they cannot issue orders at will any more.

The Law on Administrative Licensing has taken effect as of July. A key aspect of the code is that only national and provincial legislative bodies and the State Council are authorized to define matters that require legal permission.

By limiting the sources of licensing power, the law effectively prevents government agencies from randomly levying licensing fees, a practice which often complicates the process of business and breeds corruption.

The licensing issue is in the limelight, as local governments are busy deregulating unauthorized licensing to adapt to the new statute.

It is in nature a make-or-break issue in terms of the country's pursuit of more restrained government and rule of law, as well as transparency and consistent administration.

The self-scrutiny on licensing many local governments are taking is encouraging. But restraints from other sources are also needed, considering some local officials' apparent ignorance of the limits of their power.

Many legal professionals are proposing a revision of the law on administrative litigation to make illicit government decrees and decisions the subject of litigation. This might be an option legislators can consider about in order to improve government performance.

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