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China Daily Website

China shifts away from GRP-obsessed assessments

Updated: 2013-12-10 04:56
( Xinhua)

BEIJING -- Chinese officials should downplay their obsession with economic growth and focus more on people's livelihoods and the environment, as the country trumpets a more balanced work evaluation system.

A circular on improving the work evaluation of local Party and government leaderships and officials stressed that "gross regional product (GRP) and its growth rates should not be the only main indices for the evaluation of local officials' work achievements, and charts with these data must be banned."

The document was released Monday by the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

China's central government traditionally assesses the performance of local authorities mainly through economic indices like GRP, which resulted in some local governments sacrificing the environment and residents' well being for better GRP figures.

"More distinctive and pertinent assessment indices should be created in accordance with the specific obligations of leaderships and officials at different levels and in different regions," said the statement, citing the integration of sustainable economic development, people's livelihoods, social harmony and ecological protection.

Local officials should transform assessments. Rather than be based on GRP and development speed they should focus on development quality, growth mode and potential. It should stand the test of time and of the people, according to the circular.

Evaluation should be dialectical and objective, taking development costs into consideration instead of only judging based on development results, it said.

According to the document, greater emphasis should be given to indices related to the waste of resources, environmental protection, eliminating excess capacity and production safety. Also, evaluations in the fields of scientific innovation, education, culture, employment, income, social insurance and people's health should be strengthened.

It urged local authorities to abandon the development mode of "high investment and heavy pollution for fast growth rate" and warned them against unpractical "image" or "vanity" projects.

They must also reduce redundant, overlapping assessments and abolish those standards that are contradictory to stipulations from central government, it said.

According to the circular, regions with restricted development and key impoverished counties with especially fragile eco-system should be exempt from GRP assessments.

Monday's circular echoed a key reform decision made last month by the CPC Central Committee which included a part stating that local governments in ecologically fragile areas will not be pressed to pursue economic growth.

"Central authorities should not base their regional development evaluations simply on product volumes, and local Party and government organs at various levels should not base their assessments of lower-level leaderships and officials simply on such data either," said the circular.

The document stressed that economic development is not necessarily linked to officials' ethics, abilities and cleanhanded work style, and it should not be the sole basis for the dismissal and promotion of personnel.

According to the circular, officials should be held responsible for behaviors that violate scientific principles.

"Those who do things and make decisions obtrusively that result in huge losses to the country, harm people's benefits or are a severe waste of resources or cause ecological damage should be put on record and subject to disciplinary punishments -- even if they have left their posts," said the circular.

In fact, the economy-obsessed growth mode has already been scrapped in some places. Since the beginning of 2011, south China's economic hub Guangdong Province has investigated dozens of officials involved in 14 cases which sacrificed the environment for economic benefits.

In 2012, the head of the Heyuan Municipal Environment Protection Bureau of Guangdong He Mingliang was sentenced to three and a half years in prison as his dereliction of duty led to the poisoning of at least 200 residents in a local village in 2011.

He approved the manufacturing operation of a battery factory which apparently did not pass an environmental impact assessment.

Monday's circular also asked central authorities to make government debts an important index for assessing local governments' performance and strengthen the audit and accountability system concerning governments' raising of loans.

Officials' practice of raising huge amounts of loans to develop vanity projects must be prohibited, according to the circular.

Officials should solve the problems left by predecessors and should not leave problems to successors, it said.

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