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92 14 A Few Comments on the Devolution of Powers1 June 3, 1988 Since we started devolving powers, the results in the past few months appear quite good. With the new powers granted to them by the city government, districts and counties have become more energized, as have enterprises receiving powers from the various bureau-level agencies. These are the two fundamental actions we must focus on this year in devolving powers and reforming functions. At this point, it seems that the devolution of powers to districts and counties has been executed better than in the case of enterprises, which are not yet sufficiently energized. Thus we should focus harder on them in the second half of this year. We should also affirm that devolution is the direction we are taking, and the various bureau-level agencies must actively and earnestly devolve responsibilities and the corresponding powers to enterprises as well as districts and counties. Once the devolution of powers and fiscal contracting are in place, district governments will have to change their thinking and use their devolved powers well and energetically. District governments must clearly understand that they are the top level of government, so they must coordinate, balance, plan, and arrange the affairs of the entire district well. They must take firm charge of the duties devolved to them and make good use of the powers entrusted to them. All districts and counties are indeed working very hard to do this. Let me give an example. One report from the Shanghai People’s Radio said that the Yangpu district made a very detailed analysis of all the work stoppages, halts in production, street demonstrations, and petitions over the past year. It included 1. This is the main part of a speech by Zhu Rongji during the new administration’s first meeting of district leaders. After the central government enacted fiscal contracting for Shanghai, the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee and government made a decision to enact contracting and to clearly delineate the responsibilities of district governments. The necessary powers in planning , foreign trade, commerce, labor personnel, and urban construction associated with fiscal contracting were devolved to them. In March 1988 the Shanghai municipal government decided to enact a fiscal management system for its rural counties whereby they contracted fiscally to turn over a set sum. That April, the municipal government further devolved the powers of review and approval for fixed capital investments to the districts and counties. Zhu_Shanghai Years_1987-1991_hc_9780815731399_i-xii_1-620.indd 92 12/26/17 12:00 PM A Few Comments on the Devolution of Powers 93 the reasons for these actions, how to work on these matters, and how to prevent them. After reading this report, I felt that we should encourage all districts to do such work—that is, to take full responsibility for work in the districts. Although some of the enterprises in your districts might belong to the central government or to the city and you have no say in many matters regarding them, you are after all the top level of government. You’re there to manage these things, and if you can’t do so, you can let me know—I can help you in such cases. This way, you can effectively and rather quickly resolve many things that can’t be managed vertically. We’re counting on you to nip many hidden dangers and incipient problems in the bud. Of course this isn’t absolute, but you should do better at taking the pulse of the people and understanding their mood—in this matter I’m afraid you have more direct contact than our vertical leadership or me. That’s why we must count on you for many things. Whether things in Shanghai are handled well will depend on your efforts. Another point to stress is that although all of you 12 district heads are “mayors” and bear responsibility for all matters, you must obey administrative orders from higher authorities and cannot each do as you please. Whenever you feel uncertain about a matter, you should still keep the relevant bureaus informed and not act rashly. That kind of behavior won’t win you any support, or sympathy from other districts. Certain cases require unified coordination. When a street spans several districts, if each were to act on its own and if districts didn’t accept citywide coordination, chaos would ensue. We therefore expect district heads to have a comprehensive perspective; to consider problems in greater detail; to think more...


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