'Roadmap' rolled out to reform public institutions

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 April, 2012, 12:00am


The central government has issued a roadmap for reforming public institutions - a large and diverse sector that is a remnant of the planned-economy era - to deepen its now decades-old market-oriented policy of economic and social development.

While fundamental reforms have been under way in the socialist economy for the past three decades, including the restructuring of state-owned enterprises, little progress has been made in restructuring public and social institutions, largely due to strong resistance by those organisations and their staff, as many of their officials enjoy the same status as their government counterparts.

Such institutions are still directly run government agencies funded largely by public money, whose staff are treated like civil servants - regarded by many in the mainland as a stable and secure form of employment.

Guidelines from the government's top decision-making body, the Communist Party's Central Committee, and from the State Council, state that such reforms should be completed by 2020 to achieve the official goal of providing better services to the people.

Under the planned economy, the government was responsible for almost all aspects of people's lives. Every public institution was government-run and funded, providing services ranging from public health and sports to charity and disaster relief. Only in recent years has the government allowed non-governmental organisations to register and provide services to the public.

Still, many mainland NGOs remain in part funded or managed by the government. For example, the Chinese Football Association is considered an NGO, as it must follow rules laid down by Fifa, international soccer's ruling body. But, in fact, it is a unit directly run and funded by the sports ministry whose director, Wei Di , is a department-level ministry official.

Analysts say the announced reform plans are significant if belated steps on China's road to market reform, and are part of a central effort to build a service-oriented government that can accommodate an increasingly modern economy.

The guidelines say China's reform in service-oriented areas has lagged behind economic and social development, and that the pace of change has not kept up with 'the new situation and new requirements'.

They go on to say that reform of public institutions is needed because 'these problems have affected the healthy development of public service sectors'. Analysts said economic and social development requires a fundamental transformation to assist the market economy and enable sustainable development. They also say Beijing should push forward with overall reform of its economic and social institutions, as changes in governance, in coming years.

While giving the market a full role in distributing resources, the country should strive for public service system of service-oriented government.