New pricing chief vows increased transparency

New pricing chief vows increased transparency

Xu Kunlin, the newly appointed head of the pricing department at the National Development and Reform Commission, said the government will further streamline the approval process and improve supervision systems to prevent corruption.

Xu, the NDRC's director-general of the bureau of price supervision and anti-monopoly, has been named head of the pricing department concurrently with his incumbent position, the NDRC website said on Friday.

Born in Fujian province, Xu, 49, has led several antitrust cases against companies including domestic ones - Kweichow Moutai Group Co Ltd and Wuliangye Group Co Ltd - as well as foreign giants such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Audi AG and Qualcomm Inc.

In China, the NDRC, the Ministry of Commerce and State Administration for Industry and Commerce jointly handle anti-monopoly cases, but most cases are completed within the NDRC.

Xu said at an earlier news conference that China's anti-monopoly actions are open and transparent and the probes never target companies based on their nationality. Of the 335 antitrust cases in the country, only 33 involved foreign companies.

Up to five senior officials with the NDRC's pricing department have been under investigation since August as China intensified efforts to crack down on corruption.

The five officials include the former director of the pricing department Liu Zhenqiu, retired head Cao Changqing and two deputy directors, and the actions have raised huge interest among the public. In October, the Supreme People's Procuratorate defined the cases as dereliction of duty .

The general apprehension is that most of the corruption cases within the NDRC arose as the organisation had massive pricing approval rights.

Li Pumin, a spokesman for the NDRC, said the commission is working on further improving the pricing reform and has opened up pricing rights for certain products and services. He said the authorities will continue to give pricing rights to lower-level governments and related departments.

As the new head, Xu's major task hinges on drafting plans for pricing reform and related supervision method.

"We need to minimise the range of government's pricing rights," he said. "We should let the market decide the price by improving the system and reducing government interference."

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