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October 20, 2018

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One-visit service centers cut red tapes

WHEN Charlene Zhang was going to withdraw her housing provident fund from Hangzhou and use it to purchase an apartment in Jiaxing, the 30-year-old thought she would have been bogged down by government red tape.

Zhang prepared required documents, were clarified on the official website, and queued at the service counter of Hangzhou Citizen Center. After a few minutes of application, she successfully transferred the fund to her bank account. And then, the money was smoothly used in a real estate transaction in Jiaxing. Meanwhile, applying for a property ownership certificate was just as quick in Hangzhou. It went all beyond her expectation.

“It was so effective. Former experience at government service counters was not nice due to time-consuming process,” said Zhang. “Now, I am more willing to visit these departments rather than procrastinating over an annoying experience.”

More and more people like Zhang are benefiting from the so-called “one-visit service centers,” which literally means if residents have to visit a government department to handle affairs, they only do it once.

Zhejiang Province officially started the reform last year to optimize the official working process to solve people’s prominent problems. Cities across the province have figured out varied ways to resolve grassroots affairs.

Jiaxing, in northernmost Zhejiang Province, launched a system that integrated the services of different government departments and placed them all under one roof at Nanhu District Administrative Center.

In the past, due to a failure to share information between different departments, people were required to get a permit from every department to get anything done. Now, they can deal with all affairs, involving 28 government departments, at 20 service counters inside one center as the government streamlines all types of services.

A person planning to open a karaoke bar would have to apply for a business licence from market supervision department and an entertainment business permit from cultural department in the past. Now, the applicant can hand in the necessary documents at any service counter just once, avoiding long queues.

“The system requires every worker to get familiar with all government affairs. Therefore, we have been trained for almost a year,” said Lu Mingmei, a service civil servant at the center. “In the past, I only handled things related with industry and commerce departments. Now, any application submitted at my counter will be dealt with on the spot.”

Nanhu District Administrative Center is one of the four pilot spots in Zhejiang Province that is streamlining administrative permits, along with Keqiao District of Shaoxing city, Tiantai County and Wenzhou Economy Development Zone.

“Our center could typify the one-visit service centers because of the administrative advantages ove our counterparts in the city,” Lu added. “The streamlined services plus reforming policies result in high efficiency.”

In addition to prefecture-level cities, the service reform has also been spread to counties over Zhejiang Province.

Dongyang County, in middle of Zhejiang Province, promised that residents could take their identity card to complete 12 tasks without bringing other documents.

In Anji County, the service reform has cut down 75 percent of official working procedures in real estate transaction. Generally, transferring property ownership only takes 30 minutes.

Hangzhou, one of the first in the country operating under the reform, showcased its expertise on building an AI platform through big data in cooperation with local hi-tech companies. It established a Statistics Resource Management Bureau in 2017, the first of its kind in China.

At the Yunqi Conference, hosted last month in Hangzhou, local government promulgated that more than 36.8 billion pieces of data from 59 departments have been pooled onto the AI platform. Efficiency is accelerated because information is shared between departments conveniently through the platform.

An official smartphone application that gathers 153 items of services was launched in late May. It is considered the epitome of the AI platform and service reform. Thus far, there have been 260,000 users, with clicks hitting 2,200,000.

Now, the AI platform makes things much easier as 215 automatic machines have been distributed across towns and villages, providing residents with 152 types of 24-hour services. People living on outskirts of town can deal with affairs at the nearest machine without traveling a long distance to a downtown area.

These machines have already been used more than 100,000 times, saving labor and cost. Over 620 new machines are to be set up at more than 515 sites across Hangzhou by the end of this year.

Hangzhou government is not the only one to take advantage of Internet technology. Zhejiang’s provincial government has also cooperated with several high-tech companies to develop a smartphone application, which streamlines more than 200 services from 40 provincial departments, 11 cities and 90 counties.

Zhejiang Province is poised to deepen reform by further sharing big data between government departments. Administrative authorities aim to eliminate citizens’ visit under the operation of “Internet plus administrative affairs” and build up a “smart Zhejiang.”

The initiative of one-visit service centers has made significant headway and been introduced across the whole country. It was included for the first time in this year’s government work report delivered by Premier Li Keqiang.


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