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People to Have Bigger Say in Laws

The general public will have a greater say in legislation, top legislator Wu Bangguo said on Saturday.

"Laws closely related to the interests of the people, such as the draft food safety law, must be made public to extensively solicit people's opinions," Wu said while delivering a work report at the ongoing 11th National People's Congress (NPC) annual session.

"Public hearings and debates will be held to conduct in-depth deliberations for highly technical or complicated laws such as the draft social security law," he said.

To seek public opinions, the NPC has published the full texts of the draft property law, the draft employment promotion law, the draft labor contract law and the draft amendment to the Law on Prevention and Control of Water Pollution in the past five years.

NPC figures show the Labor Contract Law elicited a record 191,849 suggestions in 30 days. Also noticeable is the fact that for the first time in its history, the NPC held a legislative public hearing on the proposed lifting of the individual income tax threshold in 2005.

More public participation in legislative work will ensure new laws fully express the common wishes of the people, said deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee Shen Chunyao.

"The public's right to know, participate, express and supervise can be ensured by open and transparent legislation," he said. "More importantly, people can have a better understanding of the new laws when they participate in legislation."

Apart from the draft food safety and social security laws, other legislations on this year's agenda include the law on State-owned assets, circular economy law and the law on arbitration of disputes over contracted rural land, Wu's report said. The revision of the Electoral Law, the Organic Law of the NPC and the Law on State Compensation are also on the agenda.

Wu said the 10th NPC Standing Committee accomplished the goal of establishing the basics of a socialist legal system, with 229 laws in force in China at present.

Preventing and controlling water pollution and protection of workers' legitimate rights and interests will get priority on the NPC's supervision list this year.

The NPC Standing Committee will hear and deliberate a special State Council work report to prevent and control water pollution. It will examine the implementation of the Labor Contract Law to determine whether it truly protects the rights and interests of the workers, the report said.

(China Daily March 10, 2008)

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