China unveiled plans to restructure the government by cutting bureaucracy and the number of cabinet-level entities, including dissolving of the powerful but debt-ridden railways ministry, Sunday.
In the most significant restructuring plan in more than a decade, the number of ministries under the State Council, or China's cabinet, will reduce from 27 to 25 as the government will also merge the Family Planning Commission with the Health Ministry to form a new National Health and Family Planning Commission.
This is the seventh time the State Council undergoes changes in the past three decades.
State Councilor Ma Kai said at a council deliberation session, during the ongoing National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, that the central government has been facing difficulties owing to the duplication of functions, overlapping management, low efficiency and bureaucracy while supervision on administrative power is not fully in place, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The inefficient administration facilitated corruption and breach of duty at times, he said.
The most important task of the restructuring plan is to transform and streamline the government functions, he said.
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The railways ministry, which has long been in the center of controversy for being both railway service provider and watchdog and has seen financial problems including heavy debts from funding new high-speed lines, waste and fraud, will be dissolved into administrative and commercial arms.
Minister of Railways Sheng Guangzu told Xinhua earlier that he supported the restructuring.
"I don't care whether I would be the last minister of railways. What matters is the need of the country," he had said.
The country’s oceanic administration will be restructured to unify maritime law enforcement forces under a single administration, amid maritime disputes with several neighbors in East and South China Sea.
The National Oceanic Administration (NOA), which had only one maritime law enforcement department, China Marine Surveillance, will now have under its control the coast guard forces of the Public Security Ministry, the fisheries law enforcement command of the Agriculture Ministry, and the maritime anti-smuggling police of the General Administration of Customs, according to Xinhua.
The reshuffle will also elevate the status of the State Administration of Food and Drug, restructure the National Energy Administration and merge two media regulators into one to oversee the country's press, publication, radio, film and television sectors.