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Free Government Information Disclosure Urged

China urged its government departments to provide the public with free publications of information to protect the rights to know and improve government transparency.

Government departments should provide free and timely information through government websites, communique, news conference or media, Xu Kunlin, a National Development and Reform Commission official, said during an online interview on Tuesday.

Such information included the department structure, administrative function, official work and administrative documents required by the Provisions on the Disclosure of Government Information that took effect on May 1, Xu said.

The disclosure of specific information requested by individuals, enterprises or groups would incur a charge, Xu said. The charge, however, would only include costs incurred during the process, such as for copying and delivery.

The money would go to the national treasury, he said.

Low-income groups, however, could get free access to the paid government information by providing their income declaration, said Yuan Guangrui, General Office of Ministry of Finance deputy director.

The Provisions on the Disclosure of Government Information is designed to "improve transparency and protect the right to know and public scrutiny of official acts."

(Xinhua News Agency July 23, 2008)

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