China will dissolve its debt and scandal-ridden railways ministry as part of a government overhaul aimed at boosting efficiency and tackling corruption.
The powerful ministry, which has been plagued by a series of scandals and widespread allegations of corruption, now comes under the transport ministry while commercial functions will be handed to a new China Railway Corporation, AFP reports.
Former railways minister Liu Zhijun was sacked in 2011 and now faces graft charges after a high-speed crash in the eastern city of Wenzhou killed at least 40 people. The public blamed authorities for compromising safety in their rush to expand the network, now the world’s largest.
Meanwhile, the family planning commission, which overseas the controversial one-child policy, folds into the health ministry.
A maritime body will also be set up as China faces rising maritime disputes over sovereignty in the East and South China Seas.
This comes as the National People’s Congress aims to cement China’s incoming leadership, which has vowed to tackle the government’s massive bureaucracy.
China’s cabinet, the State Council, will be reduced to 25 ministries from 27 as part of the Communist Party’s reform blueprint.
“The administrative system in effect still has many areas not suited to the demands of new circumstances and duties,” Ma Kai, secretary general of the State Council, told the NPC parliament at its annual gathering in Beijing.
He also said that poor supervisions had led to “work left undone or done messily, abuse of power and corruption,” adding that some areas were insufficiently managed while other had “too many cooks in the kitchen”.
Chinese media welcomed the moves amid growing positive sentiment for decentralizing government power to society and local authorities, the Beijing News said.