Wen Jiabao

Power in too few hands causes graft, says Wen

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2008, 12:00am

Premier cites need for more checks and balances on officials

Excessive power concentrated in too few hands and the lack of an effective checks-and-balances mechanism had created a hotbed of corruption, Premier Wen Jiabao told a State Council anti-graft meeting yesterday.

The premier said the country needed to overhaul its administration system to strengthen supervision and restrict excessive power.

'There are no effective checks and balances for some officials in government departments, and this is an important reason for the spread of corruption. Our top priority is to establish systematic restrictions to such unsupervised power.'

The premier listed five areas for reform this year, including a plan to require authorities to hold public consultations when formulating important policies and another to establish an accountability system for officials.

He said the government needed to overhaul its internal structures to diversify power and improve transparency. The government also needed to regulate its spending and make better use of public resources through the market mechanism.

Beijing has initiated an ambitious drive to reform its administrative system, starting with the establishment of five new 'super ministries' aimed at streamlining the country's bloated bureaucracy.

But some academics have questioned the reform efforts, which they say have been compromised by the intensive politicking of entrenched special interest groups. Criticism grew after Beijing appointed 30 vice-ministers to head the newly formed super ministries - including nine for the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

Xiong Wenzhao , a professor of public administration at the Central University of Nationalities, said the appointment of as many as nine vice-ministers to a ministry violated the State Council Organisation Law, which stipulates that only two to four deputies are allowed in a ministry or ministry-level agency.

Professor Xiong said the new appointments also violated the principles set out for the streamlining reform approved by party leaders at October's national party congress.

'It contradicts the spirit of government streamlining reform, which is aimed at reducing overlap, cutting redundancy and boosting efficiency,' Professor Xiong said.

The new Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, which merged the ministries of personnel and labour, had more vice-ministers than both of the two former agencies combined, he said.

He also called on the government to cut the number of vice-ministers in the existing ministries. At present, several ministries have more than four vice-ministers. The powerful National Development and Reform Commission, for instance, has eight vice-ministers, and the Ministry of Commerce has seven as well as five assistant ministers.

In the latest leadership reshuffle, Xinhua reported that Ji Yunshi , a former governor of Jiangsu and Hebei , and eight other officials, were appointed vice-ministers of human resources.

Wang Xudong , former minister of information, and six other officials were appointed vice-ministers of industry and information.

Pan Yue , a deputy head of the former State Environmental Protection Administration, and four other officials were appointed vice-ministers of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Li Jiaxiang and four others were appointed vice-ministers of transport.

Qiu Baoxing and three others were appointed vice-ministers of housing and urban-rural construction.

The former head of the State Food and Drug Administration, Shao Mingli , was appointed vice-minister of health.