Red Tape Reorg

The much-touted government streamlining was announced at the National People’s Congress, the first since, er, the last Congress in 2003 and the fifth in two decades.

The number of ministries will be reduced by a whopping one to 27 through combination and incorporation of agencies, with five super-ministries being created for the environment, transport, housing and construction, human resources and social security, and industry and information, which will regulate the telecoms and Internet industries, absorbing the powerful telecoms authority. The health ministry recovers food and drug safety regulation. Xinhua has details.

The bigger winner is State Environmental Protection Administration, which gets elevated to full ministry status responsible for setting emission standards and curbing pollution. It will include a new national energy commission to manage state energy consumption. There will be no new energy ministry, super or otherwise.

The medium-sized winner is the railways ministry, which has managed to stay outside the new transport super-ministry. That will oversee only water, road and air transport, plus the postal service.

The bigger loser is the National Development and Reform Commission, the top planning agency, which will lose some of its power to micromanage the economy though contract approval and licensing. Instead it will concentrate on macroeconomic policy, including energy security, which is outside the new environmental super-ministry’s remit.

Beijing also plans to strengthen coordination between the commission, the central bank and the finance ministry to make economic policy more effective. It isn’t yet clear if there will be a new coordinating body for the three agencies, as has been rumored.

How much red tape will really be cut and whether there will be fewer turf wars, especially if and when the reorganization reaches down to central, provincial and local officials remains to be seen. The carve-up of key areas like energy and transport, where an entrenched old guard has managed to defend its own, doesn’t bode well.

Leave a comment

Filed under Economy, Politics & Society

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s