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People's Daily Online>>China Politics

Premier Wen encourages more participation in civil affairs

By He Dan (China Daily)

09:51, March 20, 2012

The central government is encouraging more social participation and public self-governance to develop the country's civil affairs, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Monday.

"China's reform in terms of social management and public services has fallen short, failing to satisfy people's expectations," said Wen, who delivered a keynote speech during a meeting on civil affairs.

China's civil affairs departments shoulder major responsibilities including minimum living subsidies for impoverished households in rural and urban areas, disaster relief work, and aid for the most vulnerable groups such as orphans and the homeless.

Statistics from the Ministry of Civil Affairs show that the government has expanded welfare for the most marginalized groups as now more than 53 million people in rural China receive minimum subsistence allowances compared with 5 million in 2005. Rural residents who are eligible to claim such subsidies now can receive 1,718 yuan ($272) annually from the government.

Wen stressed that the government will work hard to promote democracy at local levels and to involve more people and organizations in civil administration.

The government can reduce costs while improving quality if it allows social organizations and communities to provide public services in a proper way, he said.

"Premier Wen's remarks have sent out a very positive signal, which shows the direction for China's reform," said Wang Ming, director of the NGO Research Center at the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University.

Allowing grassroots organizations to take over some responsibilities from the government is a vital step for China to realize innovation in social management and then build "a big society and small government", Wang said.

However, he also pointed out that the government should speed up the reduction of barriers for social organizations to gain legal identities, especially in terms of registration.

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