Government takes steps to lure global investment

By Yuan Shenggao (China Daily)


The city of Linfen has become an attractive investment destination in Shanxi thanks to the local authorities' efforts in improving the business environment. [Photo by Wang Pei for China Daily]

Amid growing competition from investment destinations nationwide, authorities in various regions in Shanxi have intensified their efforts to lure investment by implementing innovative measures.

In Jinzhong, a city in central Shanxi, the local government is delegating administrative powers to simplify business registration procedures.

One of its initiatives is to assign the government's project assessment rights to specialist organizations.

Lu Guibin, chief of the Jinzhong administrative approval bureau, said such a practice can lead to a greater improvement in efficiency and a substantial decrease in administrative cost.

"In the past, such assessment was done by the government," Lu said. "But as government officials were not specialists on every detailed industrial sector, we have to invite industrial experts to do the job."

As a result of establishing a board of experts to assess every investment project, the appraisal process could be much lengthier and the annual cost for appraisal could reach 4 million yuan ($618,910) a year, according to Lu.

He added after the practice was implemented at the end of last year, the government's cost in project assessment was about 160,000 yuan in the past eight months, spending on some strategic projects requiring government appraisal, which accounted for less than 7 percent of the total.

As more officials are freed from project assessment, they are able to offer more tailored services to investors, according to Lu.

In the city of Jincheng in southwestern Shanxi, the local government is offering innovative assistance services to investors.

Xu Shaokang, an official in Jincheng Economic and Technological Development Zone, is one of the people providing the assistance.

His job is to complete all the producers ranging from business registration and land acquisition to project construction and operation, on behalf of the investing company he is assigned to.

"All the services are free of charge," Xu said. "And we must make sure every problem arising from the processes can be solved."

Qi Jinjun, another official at the zone, said most of the investors came from regions other than Shanxi.

"As strangers in Shanxi, they must have difficulties in dealing with an unfamiliar environment and unfamiliar people," Qi said. "Our whole-process assistance service is designed to help them solve all problems."

Like Jincheng, the neighboring city of Changzhi has a similar practice, which officials call the "family butler service".

"When investors decide to invest in Changzhi, we welcome them as our family members who have returned home from afar," said Liu Yanlin, deputy chief of the administrative approval bureau at Changzhi High-Tech Zone.

In the zone, there are 18 officials offering "butler" services to investors.

Local official Zhao Xueqin is one of these "butlers". Her responsibility is to help investors finish all the procedures needed for a project's operation.

She said as the "butlers" are more familiar with local administrative institutions, they can ensure that all producers be completed with greater efficiency.

Guo Yanjie contributed to this story.