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[] Zhang Nandiyang: The significance of legalization of improving the business environment

On Oct. 8, Premier Li Keqiang presided over an executive meeting of the State Council to review and approve the Draft Regulations on Improving the Business Environment. It means that the reform experience that has been tested and proven in practice in recent years will be fixed in the form of laws and regulations and implemented nationwide.

Policy implementation has always been one of the problems of government governance. Especially in the context of multi-level policy implementation, the central government's policies may be flexible and distorted in the process of implementation. As early as the 1970s, western scholars, Pressman and Wildavsky found through research that the central policy would suffer 50% loss in the descending process. How to ensure the effective implementation of the central policy is a common problem that makes the government scratching its head.

Legalization is the highest institutionalized form of practical experience. Compared with policy-type top-level design, the regulations of the State Council are the normative documents next in rank to laws, which have mandatory binding force on the departments of the State Council and local governments. The promulgation of the Draft Regulations on Improving the Business Environment means that local governments must implement these measures. Some strange phenomena that used to appear in local areas, such as "selective policy implementation" and "policies on the top, countermeasures on the bottom", will become illegal behaviors, and related individuals and agents will assume the corresponding legal responsibility.

"Cycle of increase and decrease" and "resurgence" are the helpless words we often hear in the course of reform. However, this problem is not unique to China. Many countries and organizations face similar problems. Administrative agencies are also "economic men" with departmental interests. Many reform policies that conflict with departmental interests often change shape over time or through human intervention. Solidification of reform policies or experience in the form of laws and regulations can significantly alleviate the policy implementation block and protect the reform results. In this way, the negative list of market access, "separation of business license-certificate" reform, one-window acceptance, parallel processing and other successful models are likely to retain their original appearance to the greatest extent.

Since the new era, the role of state top-level design is evident in the reform process. Under the reform background of streamlining administration, delegating power and optimizing services, the state continues to collect local experience, summarize and refine it at high speed, and promote it as a replicable top-level model across the whole country. However, we should not ignore that some underdeveloped areas are still catching up with the average level. Inevitably, local governments do not fully understand and digest the key concepts, significant measures and original intentions of the reform. Understanding and implementation by local governments is the key to putting an excellent top-level design in place. Otherwise, even good institutionalized experience is hard to achieve the desired results. Therefore, only by improving the overall awareness of government employees in a law-based manner can the reform of the business environment be carried out in both hardware and software.

Zhang Nandiyang, research fellow at NADS, associate professor of School of Public Administration, Renmin University of China.

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