Guidelines adopted at meeting on deepening reform

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, president of the People’s Republic of China, chairman of the Central Military Commission and director of the Central Commission for Comprehensively Deepening Reform, presided over the 25th meeting of the commission for deepening reform on Tuesday. Five documents were adopted at the meeting. They include Guidelines on Building a Digital Government, Guidelines on Further Promoting Fiscal System Reforms at and below the Provincial Level, Guidelines on Establishing Sound Index Systems for Auditing and Appraising Leading Officials on Their Responsibility for Natural Resource Assets before They Leave Office, Work Plan for Optimizing Financial Support Mechanism for Innovation during the 14th Five-year Plan Period (2021-2025), and Guidelines on Improving Incentive Mechanism for the Development of Science and Technology.

While chairing the meeting, Xi stressed the importance of fully implementing the national cyber development strategy, extensively applying digital technologies to government management and services, and enabling the government to function in a more digital and smarter way, thus offering solid support for modernizing China’s system and capacity for governance.

Fiscal relationship between governments at and below the provincial level should be straightened out for a more rational balance between power and responsibility, more standardized revenue division, relatively balanced distribution of fiscal resources and stronger fiscal security at the primary level.

Efforts are needed to accelerate the construction of an integrated national market, ensure equitable access to basic public services, and boost high-quality development.

Following the principles of abiding by laws and rules, being fair and objective, making sound identification, ensuring a correspondence between power and responsibility and holding to account on a permanent basis, we will establish a sound, standard, rational audit and evaluation index system to ensure leading officials fulfill their responsibilities for natural resource assets management and ecological conservation and environmental protection.

We should focus on the weak links in financial services for science and technology innovation, and improve the financial support system for innovation, so as to better adapt the financial system for the needs of science and technology innovation in the new era.

It is crucial to develop cutting-edge technologies, focus on economic growth, meet the country’s critical needs, and ensure people’s security and health. We will inspire scientists and researchers to commit themselves to their mission, concentrate on research and create value. We will foster an innovation ecosystem that encourages scientific and technological breakthroughs and facilitates their application. By doing so, science and technology personnel can tap their full potential.

Li Keqiang, Wang Huning and Han Zheng, who are members of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau and deputy directors of the Central Commission for Comprehensively Deepening Reform, attended the meeting.

The Commission pointed out, building a digital government is an important measure to innovate governance ideas and methods, and is of great importance to transforming government functions and building a law-based, clean and service-oriented government.

Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, the CPC Central Committee has made a series of major arrangements to advance the national cyber development strategy and the national big data strategy, achieving progress across the board. It is essential to uphold and strengthen overall Party leadership throughout all our efforts to build a digital government, and maintain the right political direction.

We will make meeting people’s aspirations for a better life the ultimate goal of building a digital government. Our digital service system should be universal, accessible, smart, convenient, equitable and inclusive so that the public can make fewer visits to government departments to get things done with the help of data.

Through digital reform, we will better transform government functions, and coordinate the intensive development, connectivity and interaction of e-government service systems in all fields and sectors. We will give full play to the role of digitalization in supporting the government in economic adjustment, market supervision, social management, public services and ecological conservation and environmental protection, so that we can build a well-coordinated and effective system for digital performance of duties.

We will apply systems thinking and put in place a sound and standardized system for building a digital government. We will promote effective data sharing and orderly development and use of data in accordance with laws and regulations, coordinate the integration of technologies, operations and data, and ensure better coordinated management and services across different levels, regions, systems, departments and operations.

We will never drop guard when it comes to data security, accelerate the establishment of a comprehensive security system for a digital government, and see that the security management responsibilities are fulfilled.

Since the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in 2013, we have been strengthening the top-level design for the reform of the fiscal and tax systems, further promoting the reform for defining administrative authorities and spending responsibilities between central and local governments, clarifying the distribution of revenue between them and advancing the reform of the transfer payments system, stressed the Commission. A fiscal relationship between the central and local governments featuring clearly defined powers and responsibilities, appropriate financial resource allocation and greater balance between regions is taking shape.

The Commission called for adherence to the Party’s centralized and unified leadership, adding that, under the framework of the revenue-sharing system between the central and local governments, the basic principle of improving the fiscal relationship between governments must be abided by. Administrative authorities and spending responsibilities between governments at and below the provincial level should be clearly defined, so should the revenue relationship between those governments. The system of transfer payments between them should be improved, the mechanism for adjusting their fiscal systems refined, and their fiscal management standardized.

By improving the fiscal systems, regional protectionism will be eliminated, market barriers removed, and support mechanism and standards system for constantly promoting equitable access to basic public services improved. Fiscal support for old revolutionary base areas, border areas, ethnic minority areas and under-developed areas will be increased, regional support policies improved, and a long-term mechanism for ensuring county-level governments’ basic funding established.

Risk prevention responsibilities of local governments at all levels must be fulfilled, a long-term mechanism for preventing and defusing hidden debt-related risks should be improved, any increase in hidden debt must be halted, and illegal bond issuance and fund raising strictly dealt with. Financial discipline must be tightened up, financial order maintained, and accounting oversight improved.

The practice of auditing natural resource assets under their auspice when leading officials leave their posts, which was piloted in 2015 and applied nationwide in 2017, has served as a strong institutional tool for promoting ecological conservation, according to the meeting.

Work should be done to improve the assessment standards on officials’ decisions concerning resources and environment, as well as on the supervision of their performance. Progress on the implementation of the CPC Central Committee’s important arrangements, such as natural resource protection, the red lines for ecological protection and farmland protection, pollution and carbon emissions reduction, and the designation of river and lake chiefs, should be included in the evaluation criteria.

The weight of indices and methods of assessment should be set up in a systematic way, highlighting the guiding role of key indicators such as the quantity of natural assets in physical terms and the quality of ecological environment, as well as obligatory resource and environmental indicators set in national plans.

The index setting must be scientific and precise, and regional disparities in terms of natural resource endowment and functional zoning should be taken into account.

While its scope and content being standardized, the auditing should be based on lawfully verified facts to ensure that its findings stand the test of time. By integrating various mechanisms, audit results will be made an important reference for the performance assessment of officials, as well as their appointment, removal, reward or punishment.

Effective measures should be taken to ensure the authenticity, accuracy and integrity of relevant materials and data, while those who cheat in resource and environmental data must be strictly held to account.

The Commission stressed the need to improve the financial support system for innovation at a faster pace. Efforts should focus on key areas such as making breakthroughs in core technologies in key fields, the application of scientific and technological advances, the sci-tech and innovative small and medium enterprises, as well as new- and high-tech enterprises. The supply-side structural reform in the financial sector should be deepened, while loan services for the science and technology sector promoted. Development and policy financial institutions should play a larger role in serving scientific innovation within the defined scope of their duties, and financial institutions in the banking sector should enhance their capacity in serving enterprises undertaking major national tasks in scientific innovation. The direct financing function of the multi-level capital market should be improved, the risk-sharing role of the insurance and financing guarantee institutions should be enhanced, and more external assistance be extended to the financial sector to help support scientific innovation.

We must keep in mind the worst scenarios and adhere to a problem-oriented approach, focus on safeguarding the security and stability of industrial and supply chains, strike a balance between financial support for scientific innovation and financial risk prevention, and see that  the risk control responsibilities of relevant parties are fulfilled, the meeting said.

Incentive measures are important for promoting scientific and technological innovation, playing a major role in tapping potential and unleashing vitality for innovation, according to the meeting. We will encourage science and technology personnel to reinforce patriotism and dedicate themselves with greater purpose and sense of responsibility to boosting China’s strength and self-reliance in science and technology at a faster pace.

Both material and intellectual incentives should be provided, to reward, in particular, those groups and individuals who keep in mind the country’s immediate and long-term needs and make great contributions to scientific and technological progress, economic and social development, and national strategic security.

New mechanisms for organizing and managing research projects will be employed to ensure that our science and technology personnel can concentrate their time and energy on doing research and innovation without distraction.

Support for young scientists and engineers will be increased to give them more opportunities to take on greater responsibilities, so that a favorable atmosphere will be created for young sci-tech talent to come to the fore.

Mechanisms for steadily providing funding to scientific and technological research will be refined to ensure continued support for research personnel so that they can fully commit themselves to basic research and public-interest research.

At the same time, we will place equal emphasis on providing incentives and imposing constraints, and set up an effective constraint and oversight mechanism.

Members of the Commission attended the meeting and leading officials of relevant central authorities were also present.

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