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Environment ought to weigh greater in performance grading

China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-17 07:17

Environment ought to weigh greater in performance grading

Smoke rises from a chimneys of a steel mill on a hazy day in Fengnan district of Tangshan, Hebei province February 18, 2014.[Photo/Agencies]

A CENTRAL ENVIRONMENTAL INSPECTION TEAM published its report on the environmental protection work in Central China's Henan province on Tuesday. One detail attracted special attention: The Zhengzhou municipal government was said to have failed in its job of environmental protection in 2015, but its overall assessment was still "excellent". Is environmental protection not important? Asks Beijing News:

Environmental protection accounts for only 18 percent of the province's total assessment index, while GDP growth accounts for 50 percent.

As a result, local government officials will be graded as "excellent" in their annual assessments so long as they promote local economic growth, any failure in environmental protection hardly changes the result. That in turn has encouraged leading local government officials to pursue GDP growth at all costs, just as they have in the past.

There have been many reports about this, in which local officials have achieved an "excellent" performance assessment even though the condition of the local environment has deteriorated.

The solution to this problem lies, of course, in changing the performance assessment system. The pollution is so serious that we need to pay attention to it, or we and our children will find ourselves living in smog every day, drinking polluted water, eating grains grown on polluted land. The job performance assessment of leading local officials needs a fundamental change so that the officials pay more attention to the health of the environment.

While raising the percentage of environmental protection in their assessment system, it is also advisable to introduce the "veto rule", namely leading officials should be assessed as "failing" as soon as they are judged a "failure" in their environmental protection efforts.

Some have suggested that the central government should send more inspection teams to local areas, and compare their collected data with the data submitted by local officials, so as to check whether the latter have cheated in the job. But a better way would be to grant local residents a bigger say in the assessment of environmental protection, so that the higher authorities get better knowledge of the true environmental conditions.

Environmental protection is concerned with the life and health of all, and it is time for local officials to pay more attention.

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