Promotions for officials tied to energy targets

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2007, 12:00am

Pressure is on provincial leaders

Provincial officials who failed to meet central government targets for energy efficiency and emission control would be viewed unfavourably in the next round of leadership promotions, the country's top economic planner has warned.

The promotion or demotion of provincial officials would largely depend on their ability to meet the two benchmarks by the end of the year, said Ma Kai, chief of the National Development and Reform Commission.

'The results in meeting the two targets will be a crucial basis for political assessment of government officials at different levels,' Mr Ma said in his report to the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

'We will assess how provincial officials enforce energy efficiency and environmental protection, and we will announce the results to the general public ... making it subject to the people's scrutiny.'

The Communist Party announced last week that a reshuffle would take place at the provincial level early next year to streamline the bloated bureaucracy. The appointments will involve key positions in the legislatures, governments and political advisory bodies of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities.

A review process started in June and will last until the end of the year.

The central government had met strong resistance from local bureaucrats who still lacked an understanding of the importance of energy efficiency and environmental protection, Mr Ma said.

'Many places still take economic growth rates and the amount of business investment as the sole indicators of a government official's performance. Some local authorities still protect polluting businesses and obstruct their punishment,' he said. '[The situation] is particularly bad in some cities and counties.'

By increasing pressure on provincial leaders, the central government hoped to better discipline lower-level officials, Mr Ma said.

Some provinces have responded to the pressure already. Shaanxi , for example, announced this month that city leaders who failed to improve energy efficiency by 20 per cent this year would be publicly criticised, deprived of nominations for annual awards and banned from building new industrial projects.

Officials who meet the target will receive a 500,000 yuan award from the provincial government.

Despite government efforts, energy-intensive industries continued to expand in the first half of the year. Sectors such as steel, metal, electricity, petroleum, construction and chemicals grew more than 20 per cent, official figures show.