The State Council has decided to invalidate hundreds of outdated documents to tackle conflicts in regulations and improve administrative efficiency.
The decision was made on June 15 at a State Council executive meeting that was presided over by Premier Li Keqiang.
“Our goal, by invalidating these outdated documents, is to get rid of outdated regulations that hinder market potential, entrepreneurial spirit and innovation,” Premier Li said.
More than 500 documents that affect the country’s sustainable growth, structural reform and people’s livelihood were announced to be invalid after the meeting. All had been issued between 1978 and 2013, during which time China started and carried out its reform and opening-up strategy. Some of the documents were issued for a particular social or economic context.
Over the decades, many regulations covering similar areas were issued to better suit the country’s evolving situation. This caused possible overlaps with older regulations, which were still legally effective but hadn’t been overhauled.
Major documents that were invalidated include those that were obviously not adapted to the market economy or were unnecessarily restrictive of enterprises’ operations, pricing and fund management.
Documents related to workplace safety and food security were not affected.
In December, 489 outdated documents were announced as being invalid in the first stage of the effort to overhaul documents. An office set up under the State Council to work on the task consulted departments, experts and netizens.
During the meeting, Premier Li called for all related governments to clean out outdated documents to further streamline administration and to delegate power to lower tiers.
Experts said the move is in line with government efforts to transform government functions. It will help governments at all levels to work more effectively, with fewer institutional costs that arise from regulations that have outlived their usefulness, and will improve government credibility, they said.
Wang Manchuan, secretary-general of the China Society of Administrative Reform, said the move to invalidate outdated documents will eliminate conflicting regulations and spur market vitality, motivating more investment domestically.
In the past, many regulative documents didn’t have an expiration date, often causing conflicts with new regulations announced by the central government, Wang said. This confused local governments when it came to implementing reforms, according to Wang.