OPINIONS Cut the interest chain behind business environment rankings

OPINIONS

Cut the interest chain behind business environment rankings

China Daily

09:22, May 20, 2021

A view of the Bund and the Lujiazui financial area in Shanghai from the roof of the CITIC Plaza on Jan 1, 2021. [Photo by Fang Zhonglin/for China Daily]

The National Development and Reform Commission has vowed to work with relevant departments to probe into entities evaluating local business environments, which has become a lucrative business.

In a news conference the country's major economic policy planner held on Tuesday, its spokesperson pointed out that business environment evaluation activities are organized by various parties for local governments, many of which try to enhance their authority by claiming that they are of the national level or have official backgrounds.

The spokesperson put it bluntly, saying that some of the evaluations are just a pretense for the organizations to make money.

Since the central authorities have made it a crucial task for local governments to improve the business environment in their jurisdiction, which is key to attracting investments and promoting economic vitality, evaluating organizations rapidly started popping up to tap the need of local governments to prove their merit.

A glimpse at the rankings released by these evaluators shows that they attempt to make their research look as objective as possible by applying certain evaluation and research methods, and analyzing the results through a set of indicators and the presentation of an evaluation system based on data collected from official sources. But the exorbitant participation fees they charge local governments, mostly at the county and township levels, and their exaggerated publicity efforts reveals their true motives.

Because of the lack of supervision, the data can be doctored or selected conveniently to please the most generous bidders. Such evaluations have deviated from the original purpose of the evaluation to provide the policymakers and the market with a reliable reference. They are essentially commercial events under the pretense of being objective assessments.

The business environment evaluation organized by the NDRC, the most reliable and authoritative of its kind in the country, does not collect any fees from local governments. It is the suggestions on how to improve local environment provided by its expert panel that is of more reference value for responsible local governors. Only those wanting to collect more "evidence" to prove themselves would be flocking to buy honorary plates and titles.

The performance of the economy and the vitality of the business directly reflect the conditions of a local business environment. While the central authorities are taking tough action against the practice of formalities for formalities' sake, to clean and rectify the business environment evaluation market should be not only a case in that point, but also a move to improve the business environment in the country as a whole.

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