BEIJING, March 14 (Xinhua) -- The National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliament, adopted a cabinet restructuring plan at a plenary meeting on Thursday in a bid to reduce bureaucracy and make the government more efficient in the world's most populous country.
The endorsement of the plan will reduce the number of ministries under the State Council from 27 to 25, with the dismantling of the bulky Ministry of Railways and mergers among several other government departments.
In overhauling the cabinet, the central government has emphasized that the most important tasks are transforming the government functions and reducing administrative intervention in the market and on social issues.
As the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) proposed to deepen administrative reform at the 18th National Congress in November, the restructuring, which is the seventh of its kind since China kicked off its economic reform in the late 1970s, has been largely seen as the Party's commitment to honoring its reform promise and an overture to reforms in broader spheres.
The institutional restructuring is expected to create an efficient and law-based government with a clear division of power, reasonable distribution of labor and well-defined responsibilities.
The plan came amid complaints about the duplication of functions, overlapping management, low efficiency and bureaucracy -- issues that often lead to corruption and dereliction of duty among officials without proper supervision over administrative power.
According to the plan, the Ministry of Railways, which has long been at the center of controversy for being both a railway service provider and a railway industry watchdog, will be split into administrative and commercial units.
The status of the existing State Food and Drug Administration will be elevated to a ministerial-level general administration to give teeth to the watchdog in enhancing food and drug safety supervision, following a string of food safety scandals and mounting public dismay.
Observers believe the endorsement of the institutional reform plan reflects the new Party and state leaders' resolve to deepen reforms in more challenging areas at a critical juncture.
Since Xi Jinping replaced Hu Jintao as the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee in November, he has advocated reform on various occasions and used a number of new political phrases to consolidate reform consensus.
He came up with a particularly notable line while visiting Guangdong Province on the first leg of his inspection tour shortly after becoming the Party chief. "While advancing reforms, we must have the courage to gnaw at a hard bone and wade through a dangerous shoal," he urged.