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New rules to boost clean governance

By AN BAIJIE (China Daily)

08:32, March 29, 2013

A renewed focus on working for the people, frugality and improved efficiency were some of the key points of the State Council's work rules for government agencies published on Thursday.

The rules targeted displays of ostentation and reminded officials of the importance of clean governance and accountability.

In the 58-item State Council's Work Rules, the government required its ministries, commissions and affiliated agencies to maintain and improve contact with the public, meet people's requests and adopt a disciplined approach to work.

Working for the public good and within the legal boundaries were two of the guiding principles of the work rules as were pragmatism, practicality, democracy and transparency.

The State Council's first plenary meeting approved the work rules on March 20, according to the government's website.

Under the rules, the government will strive to streamline its structures, boost efficiency and crack down on corruption.

The rules also focus on expenses, and spending by officials on foreign trips must be properly managed.

Displays of wastefulness will not be tolerated and generally a more frugal approach must be adopted.

The budget for international meetings, symposiums, celebrations and galas held by ministries and commissions must be strictly controlled as must budgets for foreign trips and overseas conferences.

During a news conference on March 17, Premier Li Keqiang vowed no new government buildings will be built, the government payroll will decrease and receptions, business trips and the use of official vehicles will be slashed.

The market-oriented economy must be free from undue interference from government.

The government has a responsibility to provide basic public services, under the rules, and maintain social fairness and justice.

The efficiency and quality of government conferences was also highlighted in the work rules with the stipulation that problems can be addressed through specialist conferences.

Documents and bulletins with insubstantial content will not be issued.

Government officials are not allowed to visit scenic resorts for sightseeing during official business tours to local governments, and receptions must not impose a financial burden on the hosts.

Zhou Shuzhen, a professor of political studies at Renmin University of China, said that the drive for a more frugal approach since the Party's 18th National Congress in November had seen a number of high-end hotels and restaurants suffer the financial consequences.

Jiang Ming'an, a law professor at Peking University, said that the State Council's detailed stipulations will set an example for all levels of government.

"The public expects that the new government will make a difference," he said, adding that the biggest challenge for the government is to balance different interests and maintain social stability.

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