BEIJING, Aug. 30 -- Members of the State Council, China's cabinet, faced questions on Saturday at a legislative session on reforms of administrative approvals, a move to promote transformation of government functions.
China is making efforts to ease market maneuverability by reducing the amount of administrative approvals required for businesses. Since March last year when Premier Li Keqiang took the office, the State Council has canceled or delegated 632 administrative approval processes.
The government pledged to cut more approvals and shift its focus on supervision and macro-management, said He Jianzhong, who was in charge of the State Council office for reform of administrative approval system.
The State Council listed 1,235 administrative approval items under 60 central government departments in March this year, most of which would be cut or decentralized gradually, he said at the session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee.
Efforts would focus on about 700 key items that involve business creation, investment, employment and innovation. The progress of cutting these approvals is going well, he said in response to a question from a lawmaker Lyv Wei who asked for specific introduction into government plans to streamline administrative approval system.
The moves were aimed at making the market play a decisive role in allocating resources and giving local government more freedom to manage administrative affairs and provide public service, he said.
The government is also striving to finish by May next year cleaning up all the non-administrative license matters, most of which were about the government's internal management, subject to government approval as a stopgap solution, he added.
These items have triggered public complaints for causing corruption and administrative inefficiency.
While being asked by lawmaker Long Chaoyun about how to ensure smooth transfer of some administrative to local governments, He said the central government is providing assistance in policy-making, personnel training and equipment to local governments to carry on these approval processes.
Wang Xiaochu, Vice Minister of Human Resources and Social Security responded to questions about cutting approvals and confirmation of some professional qualifications asked by lawmaker Li Lianning.
Many young people have to pass a dozen or more examinations for various professional qualifications before getting a job, Li said, adding the rampant government approvals have caused heavy economic burden to the public.
The government will loosen its control on these approvals, leaving assessment to industrial associations and societies, Wang said.
"We have canceled 58 items of such professional qualification approvals this year and plan to clean up more in November this year," Wang said.
Li Liguo, Minister of Civil Affairs, said social organizations would play an increasingly important role in providing public service and managing affairs in their own industries as the government is streamlining its functions.
But he said a large amount of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and social groups still lack capabilities to fulfill the mission.
The government will build more favorable environment for their development and urge them to improve transparency, self-discipline and credibility, Li said while responding to lawmaker Feng Changgen's inquiry on how to prevent social groups becoming bureaucratic and inefficient "quasi-government".
Senior officials from other ministries and departments including banking regulation, development and reform, finance, commerce, housing and urban-rural development attended the session in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to listen to suggestions and respond to questions and criticism from lawmakers.
Such procedures - questions and criticisms on matters of widespread public concern - are one of the means by which the NPC oversees the State Council, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate.
Also on Saturday, Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, presided over a meeting where he and According to a statement issued after the meeting, Zhang and vice chairpersons heard reports on several drafts expected to be put to vote on Sunday when the bimonthly session closes.
These drafts involved amendments to the budget law and the workplace safety law, setting martyrs' day as well as establishing special courts for intellectual property rights in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Report about the draft on electoral reform in Hong Kong was also heard at the meeting.