Sixty-three government ministries, departments and offices use the Internet to pass on information to the public, officials revealed. Vice-Minister of Information Industry Shi Wanpeng said the practice improved the transparency of government and helped the public understand policies and administration. The public would be able to exercise closer supervision and monitoring of the Government, said Mr Shi. The 63 units are mostly key government organs covering areas such as economics, and social and cultural development. The development is looked upon as a breakthrough by observers in Beijing who see the Government as traditionally shrouded in secrecy. Internet exposure would give more people access to government information, including the activities of top officials, they said. Officials responsible for Internet operations have promised the public access to authorised government files, annual plans and even cadres' family backgrounds. Net surfers have taken advantage. One complained of high fees charged by natural gas companies and another criticised the Government's policy in dealing with the confiscation of private property.