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Revamp of ministries mapped out
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08:16, March 12, 2008

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A reshuffle plan featuring "super ministries" - the third major government restructuring in a decade - was unveiled yesterday and presented to lawmakers for debate.

Merging overlapping functions, the plan envisages the establishment of super ministries handling human resources, construction, transportation, industry and environment protection.

It also involves the establishment of a high-level National Energy Commission (NEC) to integrate management and functions that are currently undertaken by many agencies.

The NEC will be responsible for energy strategy, security and development. A national energy bureau reporting to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) will be established to undertake the day-to-day work.

Also, the State Food and Drug Administration will be placed under the Ministry of Health.

The proposed restructuring, an important ingredient in the overall plan to deepen reforms in the administrative system, is a continuation of the five major government reshuffles over the past 30 years, State Councilor Hua Jianmin said, while explaining the plan to about 3,000 lawmakers.

It will re-arrange functions of departments that exercise macroeconomic regulation, strengthen energy and environment agencies, integrate bodies in charge of industrial administration and information technology, form a transport ministry, and strengthen departments responsible for public administration and public services, he said.

Experts said that while the previous five shake-ups mainly focused on cutting redundancy, the latest endeavor takes a significant step by streamlining administrative resources and cutting costs.

"With the goal of building a service-oriented government, the current restructuring will not just be about merging and splitting. There will be a series of complementary measures to facilitate the reform," said Ma Dehuai, one of the leading experts at China University of Political Science and Law.

President Hu Jintao, at the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last year, vowed to accelerate the reform of the administrative system and build a service-oriented government.

And at the beginning of the current NPC session, Premier Wen Jiabao labeled reform of the administrative system as "an important part of the reform of political institutions".

"The latest proposal is just the beginning of administrative reform which will run till 2020, and will take several terms of government to finetune it into a mature mechanism," said Ma.

The reshuffle involves 15 government departments and reduces the number of Cabinet ministries and commissions to 27 from 28.

Apart from the establishment of super ministries, the plan also calls for an effective macro-regulation system by revamping the functions of various regulators.

Source: China Daily

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