Beijing trims local gov't liaison offices, steps up supervision

08:46, January 29, 2010      

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The Chinese government has decided to cut the number of local government liaison offices in Beijing and strengthen supervision to cut cost and root up corruption, a senior official from the Government Offices Administration of the State Council said Thursday.

Counties, local government departments, and development zones were ordered to close liaison offices in the capital within six months, the unnamed official quoted a circular issued by the State Council's General Office on Jan. 19 as saying.

As of 2006, Beijing has 50 liaison offices representing China's provinces and special economic zones, 295 representing major cities, 146 representing local government departments and 436 representing counties, figures from the administration showed.

Liaison offices of provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions and special economic zones could retain their offices in Beijing, while established city-level liaison offices could be kept only after being approved by provincial governments, according to the circular.

The official warned local government to guard against loss of state assets when liaison offices were closed saying the assets should be dealt with according to relevant regulations.

Liaison offices usually have assets that include apartments, guest houses and hotels, and restaurants.

The circular also clarified major functions of retained liaison offices, which should offer "high-quality, frugal and efficient" service for the economic and social development of their localities.

The liaison offices should shoulder tasks entrusted by their localities' Communist Party of China (CPC) committees and government, as well as by the central Party and government organs, the official said.

They should also cooperate with the Beijing municipal government in maintaining the capital's stability, offer service for institutions and people from their localities, and help to administer and provide training and service for migrant CPC members from their localities who came to work in Beijing, the official said.

To enhance supervision and fight corruption, local government should conduct audit on its liaison office each year, and the Government Offices Administration is empowered to conduct spot-check on local government's audit results when necessary, according to the circular.

The official said members of the retained liaison offices should be strict with themselves, shun from extravagant receptions and strictly control expenses.

The official said "local government liaison offices s played positive role in coordinating work among regions, handling some emergency incidents, and maintaining the capital's stability."

However, lax supervision, a swelling number, shoddy quality, vague definition of their functions were problems plaguing these offices, the official said.

Some local government liaison officials were even implicated in serious corruption cases and resulted in serious negative social impact, he said.

The measures outlined in the circular could "enhance the building of a clean government, building up a good image of the CPC and the government, cutting administrative cost and expenses, and pushing forward the transformation of the liaison offices' functions," the official said.

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