China to introduce regulation to improve business environment and facilitate investment

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BEIJING, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- China will soon release a nationalregulation on bettering the country's business environment. This is toestablish a basic framework of norms for a business environment thattreats all market players - domestic and foreign - as equals, and toprovide institutional safeguards, in the form of government regulation,for investment and business operation by all types of market players.

The draft regulation was adopted on Tuesday at the State Council'sexecutive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang. In light of the actualneeds of market players, the new regulation focuses on transforminggovernment functions, draws upon advanced international standards, andseeks to codify the experience and practices proven effective from pastreforms.

"Introducing this regulation now is critical for consolidating ourachievements in the reform of government functions in recent years. Itis also a key measure for tackling the downward economic pressure andattracting more foreign investment," Li said.

China has seen its business environment visibly improved in recentyears thanks to the reform of regulatory streamlining and governmentservice upgrading. In 2018, China's global rankings moved upsignificantly in the World Bank's ease of doing business report andsimilar surveys by other global institutions.

The new regulation also features greater intensity in empoweringmarket players. It stipulates the need to consistently ease marketaccess, including applying a unified national negative list on marketaccess, further deepening the reform of decoupling of business licensesand operation permits, and simplifying procedures for opening orcanceling a business. Local governments are required to make public thetime required for applying for permit, certificate, opening bank accountand applying for electricity use, and other items related to starting anew business. Explanations need to be made to the public for cases thatare not completed in stated time period.

Real-estate registration and transactions, as well as tax payment shall be completed at one stop.

The new regulation also highlights the importance of makinggovernment services more efficient, with administrative licensing andreviews further simplified. The practice of notification commitment willbe put in place for those review and certification items that need tostay. Strict law-based deliberations and approval procedures must be putin place for setting any new administrative review and licensing items,according to the new regulation.

Refined and innovative approaches in oversight and law enforcementare also underscored, The practice of randomly selecting inspectors toinspect randomly selected entities and prompt release of results will beapplied to all areas except for those areas closely related to publicsafety and health. The Internet Plus Oversight model will be promoted,and a prudent yet accommodative regulatory approach will be applied toemerging industries.

"Clear and solid requirements must be made in terms of the proceduresof starting businesses, decoupling business licenses from operationpermits, administrative licensing, market entry and exit, and effectiveoversight and better government services. All this will send outpositive signals to the market, and contribute to a good imageinternationally," Li said.

The protection of market players is also highlighted in the newregulation approved on Tuesday. It requires that the right of marketplayers to independent operation and their personal and property safetybe protected, all types of market players have equal access to factorsof production and national policy incentives, and institutionalarrangements including a sound mechanism of punitive compensation forintellectual property infringement be put in place.

The principle of transparency in government services is underlined inthe new regulation. Government services should be enjoyed with unifiedcriteria by all types of market players on a equal basis. Views ofmarket players and industrial associations shall be fully heeded whenmaking regulations, ordinances and normative documents that are closelyrelated to business production and operation. It was made clear thatwithout supporting provisions in laws and regulations, administrativenormative documents should not undermine the rights and interests orincrease the obligations of market players.

"We must continue to pay great attention to deepen the reform ofgovernment functions as we build a world-class, market-oriented businessenvironment governed by a sound legal system. For a developing countrylike China, in addition to using fiscal and monetary policies, a moreenabling business environment is all the more critical for boostingmarket vitality," Li said.

Responsibility tracking and investigation will be more strictlyexercised. Any arbitrary acts and law-breaking behaviour made bygovernment staff and officials, as well as arbitrary surcharges frompublic institutions will be seriously dealt with.

"The reform of government functions is an important measure of oureffort to improve the business environment. There is still much that wecan do. Our efforts to transform government functions and exerciselaw-based governance in an open and transparent way conform to thedirection of reform and opening-up," Li said. "The delegation ofgovernment powers must help deliver greater efficiency while theimprovement of government oversight must help ensure fairness."

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