National legislators endorsed a government restructuring plan on Thursday, ushering in an era of intensifying reform toward less bureaucracy and more efficiency.
The plan includes bold measures and a roadmap to reduce administrative intervention in the market and in social issues.
The reform package cuts the number of ministries under the State Council, China's cabinet, from 27 to 25, dismantling the Ministry of Railways and merging several other government agencies.
Zhang Liyong, a lawmaker and also head of Henan Provincial High People's Court, said the reform of the railway system will open the door for private businesses to participate in railway construction.
The Ministry of Railways will be split up, its regulatory powers going to the Ministry of Transport and its operations to a commercial entity.
"Railway authorities have long been criticized by the public for low efficiency and arrogance, and I believe the reform will satisfy the public," he said.
The power of food safety supervision authorities will be enhanced after the institutional restructuring, with the State Food and Drug Administration being elevated to a ministerial-level department.
This will help improve food and drug safety and meet the public's demands, Zhang said.
"In the past, food safety issues were jointly tackled by 13 departments, but none of them could do their best to supervise food safety," he said.
In addition to the reshuffle, the reform package emphasizes transforming government functions. It lists a raft of measures to minimize inconvenience and cut costs for approving investment projects, starting up businesses, issuing permits and establishing social organizations.
"The proposed reforms for transforming government functions are moving in the right direction, but more work needs to be done," national lawmaker and president of Nanchang University in Jiangxi province, Zhou Wenbin, was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying on Sunday when the draft plan was unveiled.
Lawmaker Zhan Furui, who is also executive deputy director of the National Library of China, said the reform of culture-related departments should go further.
"Before the legislative session, lots of people expected a 'mega-culture ministry' that combines the current Ministry of Culture with the press, publication, radio, film and TV authorities," he said.
"A unified cultural authority would better boost the country's culture-related industries."
Zhan said the reform gave the National Development and Reform Commission more power, since the electricity authorities are now under the full administration of the commission.
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