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Net gains as services get boost to give users more online benefits

Zhang Yue
Updated: May 22,2018 8:18 AM     China Daily

The recent moves in building comprehensive online services will help internet-based government services to be more cost-effective and efficient for users, experts said.

An executive meeting held by the State Council, China’s Cabinet, on May 16, decided that the government will issue a slew of measures to promote the growth of Internet Plus government services as well as publicize public information.

The meeting, presided over by Premier Li Keqiang, decided that a unified e-platform that aligns national, provincial, and city levels will be built with all related services and information, unless such information is banned or confidential. At the same time, no permission will be granted for separate information systems run in isolation by individual government departments.

Meng Qingguo, a professor on governance at the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University, said building such a comprehensive platform will bring greater convenience to people in locating where to find government services.

“A comprehensive e-platform for government services will help save government spending as it will avoid repeated construction of building government services at all levels,” Meng said. “By blending government information at all levels into one service platform, this will help deal with the situation when information is required across different levels of government, which in the past required a lot of time and effort in communication.”

He said the above steps will gradually help realize that individuals and businesses will be able to “accomplish required procedures and find necessary information by simply logging onto the government website”.

The meeting also decided that standard government service procedures should consist of just three stages-an integrated reception, categorized approval, and uniformed completion. No right of retention will be given to service halls set up by individual regional departments, according to the meeting.

Meng said this will help nurture a more comprehensive government information system network, as currently there are still significant imbalances in services provided by city halls across the country.

The Premier stressed at the meeting that a more efficient and available government service is expected to improve the business environment and boost market vitality and public creativity.

China’s development of the Internet Plus model has made big strides and is a global pioneer in the field in particular areas. The government should take this as a good opportunity to promote one-stop internet-based government services and enable more government services to be made available online, Premier Li said at the meeting on May 16.

He stressed that by the end of 2019, at least 90 percent of provincial government service items should be able to be completed online, and at least 70 percent of city and county-level government services should be completed through online platforms.

He stressed that during the construction of the e-platform, the government should make public its purchase of services with supervisory and regulatory work in full play. The State Council should take care of problems reported by the public and come up with solutions promptly.

Meng said in the past two years, the government has been taking concrete and effective steps in improving internet-based governance development.

“A great amount of time has been saved in allowing people and businesses to finish the same procedure in much shorter time periods with less print documents required,” Meng said.

“The government has also set up regular review mechanisms, usually every three months, on the condition of all regional government websites to see if they are functioning with sufficient services. All of these have helped build an environment in which all people participate in public services and governance, while more convenience in starting businesses is also required by China’s current stage of business development.”

By December 2017, the number of internet government service items had reached 485 million. By the first quarter of 2018, the number of government websites had reached 23,269. At the same time, the total number of Weibo accounts opened by municipal level governments had reached over 170,000.

Also worth noting, Meng said, is efforts to enhance protection of data and privacy, the sound development of which is the premise of developing internet-based governance. “There are currently also imbalances across regions in the protection of data and privacy of government websites across the country, and better systems are required in data sharing across governments,” he said.

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