Vice-premiers and state councilors must be present at committee hearings on special issues under a regulation issued recently by the National People’s Congress.
The NPC has stepped up its efforts to improve committee hearings to oversee government work. One or two vice-premiers and state councilors are required to attend the hearings to answer questions from NPC deputies.
Fu Wenjie, an official at the NPC’s general office, said the regulation is intended to improve the efficiency of hearings and create a formal system of regular hearings in the next few years.
The regulation also stipulates that the heads of State Council departments and the chiefs of top judicial organizations and law enforcement bodies should participate in hearings that relate to their fields.
Last year, three such hearings were held on the social security system, rural development and cutting red tape in government.
Vice-premier Ma Kai answered questions at the hearing about the work of improving the social security system in December. He is the most senior official to have attended a hearing since the system was introduced five years ago.
The system was adopted in March 2010 at a meeting of the NPC’s Standing Committee, and 15 hearings have been held since then.
The matter of standards for questions during the hearings has also been raised.
The regulation asks committee members not to sweep problems under the carpet. It empowers them to make repeated requests for information about government work if they are not happy with the answers they receive.
Three committee hearings on special issues are scheduled for this year, covering the enforcement of the law on vocational education and water pollution, and wrong-doing related to audits.
Law enforcement inspections, reviews of government reports and committee hearings on special issues are three pillars for effective supervision of government work by NPC deputies, Fu said.
“The congress will make further efforts to improve procedures, specify the proceedings and set up standards for hearings to ensure that it gets the answer it wants.”