Standing Committee agrees to supervision of local officials A law covering the supervision of local governments and judiciaries was passed by the National People's Congress Standing Committee yesterday in what it said was an attempt to put a stop to abuse of official power in local areas. NPC legislator Qiao Xiaoyang told a news conference announcing the adoption of the law that officials in some localities had 'overstepped their roles or clearly violated laws' in making certain decisions and issuing orders. Local government officials also had illegally collected fees and imposed fines 'at their own will'. The law, which will go into effect next year, will allow members of people's congress standing committees to supervise local government, courts and prosecutors. Standing committee members will also be empowered to launch investigations into a wide variety of abuses by local officials from January 1. Mr Qiao said that under the Supervision Law, the standing committees of people's congresses at and above the county level were authorised to repeal the decisions or resolutions made by the standing committees of the people's congress at lower levels, or any inappropriate decisions or orders issued by governments at this same level. According to a Xinhua report, standing committee members must exercise such power collectively. It also stated that the new law allowed standing committees to summon government officials to explain their work and policies, and answer to complaints received by the committees. Yang Jingyu , director of the NPC Law Committee, said the new law aimed to give standing committee members the legal power to execute their duties, while at the same time ensuring that they would not have too much power, resulting in unnecessary interference with the work of the government and judiciary. In a frank admission of the wide variety of problems now challenging the Communist Party, Mr Qiao said the main concerns of citizens included problems in the agriculture sector, compulsory education, medical care and public health, the environment, safety conditions in the workplace, the social security system and resettlement compensation. He said people's courts and people's procuratorates were increasingly handling public complaints about the lack of channels to direct complaints, the failure to enforce court decisions, problems involved in getting compensation, illegal detentions and injustices in the legal system. 'These are the issues where people's complaints are most concentrated and where there is the strongest public outcry,' Mr Qiao said. The passage of the law comes as the government is being confronted by an unprecedented number of public protests around the country, in some cases involving tens of thousands of people. In many of the incidents, the protests have been connected to what is perceived as abuses by local officials. NPC lawmakers began drafting the law in 1987. It only recently speeded up the process due to calls from the public for the NPC to curb abuses by government and judicial officials. Yesterday, the NPC Standing Committee also passed an agreement with Pakistan to fight terrorism, separatism and extremism, Xinhua reported.