Gover­nors sum­moned to min­istry should get stain on their records

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - ON MON­DAY,

the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion sum­moned the gover­nors of Sip­ing and Gongzhul­ing in North­east China’s Jilin province, Heng­shui in North China’s Hebei province, Zibo in Shandong province, Xingyang in He­nan province and Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province, and the High-Tech District of Changzhi in North China’s Shanxi province for ex­pla­na­tions for the wors­en­ing con­di­tion of the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment and their poor han­dling of air pol­lu­tion. South­ern Me­trop­o­lis Daily com­ments:

Since the min­istry started the gov­er­nor-in­quiry prac­tice in 2014, the heads of at least 15 city and county gov­ern­ments have been called to the min­istry to ex­plain their poor per­for­mance in pro­tect­ing the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment and ecol­ogy.

The in­quiry mech­a­nism serves as a warn­ing to lo­cal gov­ern­ments that they must do more to ful­fill their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion.

But, as the past three years have shown, this has not been enough to curb en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion and pol­lu­tion.

If the in­quiry sys­tem re­mains tooth­less and con­tin­ues to lack legally bind­ing pow­ers to ef­fect change, it is pre­dictable that more lo­cal gover­nors will make their way to the min­istry to lis­ten to sug­ges­tions on how to im­prove their work.

Few of the lo­cal gover­nors heed the warn­ings or ad­vice be­cause the min­istry al­most has no say in their pro­mo­tion or pun­ish­ment, even if its ad­min­is­tra­tive level is higher than that of the city and county au­thor­i­ties.

In other words, al­though the cen­tral au­thor­i­ties have given en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion equal im­por­tance to eco­nomic growth, it is way down the to-do list of the top lo­cal of­fi­cials.

The cen­tral au­thor­i­ties need to re­form the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Min­istry’s gov­er­nor-in­quiry mech­a­nism. Be­ing sum­moned to the min­istry should be re­garded as a stain on an of­fi­cials’ record and be taken into ac­count when they are con­sid­ered for pro­mo­tion.

In the long run, the min­istry must es­tab­lish a per­for­mance eval­u­a­tion sys­tem to as­sess the ef­forts of lo­cal of­fi­cials to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment and curb pol­lu­tion.

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