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Power 'caged' for better governance

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-25 10:26

Power 'caged' for better governance

A gavel in a court. [Photo/IC]

A new item will be added to the list of tasks the State Council, China's Cabinet, should report to the Standing Committee of National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, as part of the latest efforts to place executive power under more scrutiny. On Monday, the Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform of the 19th Communist Party of China Central Committee adopted a reform project that urges the State Council to report State-owned assets' management to the Standing Committee of the NPC.

Apart from introducing more transparent management of State-owned assets, the reform measure is an example of enhanced supervision by the legislature.

In August 2015, the leading group adopted a policy asking the State Council to report to the NPC Standing Committee how it deals with problems exposed by auditing. The mechanism, which enables the NPC and its standing committee to regularly examine the central government's work, has helped realize the legislature's constitutional power to supervise the government.

The list of the issues that the State Council should report to the NPC Standing Committee has been expanding over the years as the country makes efforts to advance law-based governance. The best-known practice is the annual Government Work Report delivered by the premier to the top legislature at its annual session, which is then discussed and examined by the NPC deputies to the session before being approved.

A budget report and a national economic and social development plan, too, are delivered to the NPC for examination before being approved. The top legislature also reviews the reports on final accounts, mostly in the latter half of the year.

Since 1996, when the Audit Law came into effect, lawmakers have reviewed the National Audit Office's audit report on the implementation of the central budget annually. In addition, the national legislature receives from the central government reports on specific issues, mostly about important and urgent matters concerning the people. These issues vary from year to year, from environmental protection to poverty alleviation.

At the last bi-monthly session of the NPC Standing Committee in late October and early this month, lawmakers were briefed by Agricultural Minister Han Changfu about the progress made in and the problems associated with the protection of grasslands.

Another efficient tool of the NPC Standing Committee to check the government is reviewing the enforcement of laws. At the last bi-monthly session, the NPC Standing Committee also delivered a report on the enforcement of the Solid Waste Control Law after several months of investigation nationwide. Based on this report, the NPC Standing Committee, headed by Chairman Zhang Dejiang, conducted an inquiry with State Council officials. The report of the inquiry should be prepared in due time along with suggestions on improvement and remedial measures.

Over the past five years, such interactions between the legislature and the government have become a regular practice, touching on a number of urgent issues such as air and water pollution, vocational education and product quality.

The key report at the 19th National Congress of the CPC regards the system of people's congresses as "a political system fundamental to the Party's leadership, the people's running of the country, and law-based governance". In the report, the country's leadership pledged to improve the organizational and working systems of people's congresses in order to ensure they exercise their statutory powers to enact laws, conduct oversight, make decisions, and appoint and remove officials.

A healthy relationship between the legislature and the government is essential to China's drive toward law-based governance as well as for modernizing its system and capacity for governance.

Xinhua News Agency


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