The State Council published a detailed regulation on promoting transparency of governmental affairs earlier this week. Compared with similar past regulations, the new one, for the first time, clearly requires local governments and departments to respond to major incidents of concern to the public within five hours, and hold press conferences within 24 hours. Beijing Youth Daily comments:
Increasingly more local governments or departments find themselves too slow to react to incidents of concern to the public. In the past, when some incident happened, officials usually had plenty of time to discuss how to deal with it, but nowadays that’s no longer the case.
To make it more difficult, the public are paying increasingly more attention to government affairs. Many rumors emerge this way, with the public eager to know and the local government officials too slow to react.
That’s why the newly published regulation is welcome. It not only reemphasizes the existing principle of promoting transparency in government affairs, but also sets out detailed requirements for local governments, which must now make transparent information about urban planning, tax collecting, social welfare and all other major affairs, unless the parts are concerned with State secrets.
This is necessary because if local governments are allowed to selectively publish their information, that will only curb, instead of promoting, government transparency.
More importantly, the new regulation clearly sets deadlines for local governments to respond to public opinion incidents: Five hours for the initial response and 24 hours for a news conference. This means local government officials no longer have any excuse for delaying their responses.
The regulation also requires the leading officials of local governments or departments to respond to the public’s questions, instead of delegating that to lower officials. This is an important principle, too, because the leading officials know more about the decision-making process and should be responsible for the decisions they make.
Thus, the new regulation is both welcome and necessary for local governments.