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Digital governance in focus





Key meeting calls for extensive use of high tech to enhance public services



Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, called on Tuesday for the extensive use of digital technologies in administration and public services to further modernize the nation's governance system and capacity.



While presiding over a meeting of the Central Committee for Deepening Overall Reform, Xi, the head of the committee, stressed the need to promote the digital and smart operations of the government and fully carry out the strategy to build up the nation's capacity in cyberspace.



Policymakers reviewed and adopted five policy documents at the meeting, including one to reform China's fiscal system below the provincial level, a plan to enable the financial sector to better support the nation's innovation and a guideline to improve the incentive mechanism for science and technology.



In stepping up efforts to build a digital government, the policymakers pledged to uphold and strengthen the Party's leadership across the board and meet the people's aspirations for a better life.



It is important to develop a system of digitalized services that are more accessible, convenient, fair and inclusive, and to ensure the public can make fewer trips when accessing administrative services with the enhanced sharing of data between departments, they said.



Digitalization should serve as a key factor underpinning the government's functions in economic regulation, market oversight, social management, public services and the protection of the ecology and the environment, they said.



The meeting called for coordinated steps to promote integration in technology, services and data and to enable more coordinated management and services across different levels, regions, systems, departments and service providers.



It stressed unremitting efforts in guaranteeing the security of data, including the development of a system that ensures data security for digital government.



In reforming China's fiscal system below the provincial level, the policymakers highlighted the necessity to clearly define the fiscal power and responsibilities in terms of expenditures of governments below the provincial level, improve the mechanism for transfer payments and enable more standardized fiscal management.



They said reform in the fiscal system should serve as a catalyst for breaking regional protectionism, eliminating market barriers and providing more equitable basic public services.



It is important to build a long-term mechanism that guarantees the fiscal strength of county-level governments and to guarantee that authorities at various levels assume their duties in risk prevention and containment, the policymakers said.



The long-term mechanism to prevent and defuse hidden debts must be refined to curb the growth of such debts, and officials taking action that raises debts in violation of laws and regulations must be held accountable, they said.



China's outstanding local government debts totaled 30.47 trillion yuan ($4.77 trillion) by the end of December, according to the Ministry of Finance.



The meeting called for quicker steps to develop a system for the financial sector to support innovation, highlighting the development of core technologies, the commercialization of research outcomes and support for smaller high-tech and innovative businesses as key targets.



The meeting also called for the banking sector to scale up its capability in serving businesses committed to the nation's major innovation projects and the capital market to improve their direct financing functions.



In improving the incentive mechanism for science and technology, the policymakers said China will prioritize teams and researchers focusing on the nation's most pressing and long-term demands and those making major contributions to scientific and technological progress, socioeconomic growth and the nation's strategic security.



It is important to step up institutional reform to guarantee that science workers have sufficient time for research and to free them from unnecessary duties, they said, adding that greater incentives must be offered to young researchers to encourage them to take major responsibilities.



The meeting also pledged to offer stable funding support to researchers devoted to fundamental science and research on public welfare, and take steps to improve the research funding mechanism.



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