|China's cabinet stresses openness in government affairs|
The State Council, or China's cabinet, on Tuesday released a circular urging increased openness in government affairs in order to ensure that government officials will continue to work in a lawful and efficient manner.
"We should stick to lawful, scientific and democratic policy-making and increase the scope of publicity, especially for major reform plans, policies and projects that are directly related to the people's interests," said the circular, which was jointly issued by the State Council and the General Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.
The circular stressed that expenditures and budgets for government departments at all levels, as well as data on key construction projects, must be publicized in full detail.
According to the document, information on major emergencies, such as investigation results and details on government efforts to address the emergencies, should be released to the public in an "objective and timely manner."
"Local government departments must make more efforts to ensure transparency in government affairs in order to protect the people's rights to know about and supervise the government," said the circular.
The circular specified several obstacles for transparency efforts, including a lack of information, nonstandardized publicity procedures, poorly designed information-sharing systems and problems regarding the distinction between classified information and public information.
Unclear regulations for service-oriented government offices and a failure to meet public demand in administrative approval were also highlighted in the circular.
The document called for local governments to simplify and improve approval procedures for different projects and to explore new methods to expand government services that will provide greater access to employment, social insurance and medical insurance.
Government departments were also urged to focus on building their own official websites.
According to the circular, an evaluation system should be set up to reward government units that are highly rated by their constituents and punish those that are found to be harming the interests of the people.