The State Council, China's cabinet, on Thursday canceled all non-administrative reviews to cut red tape and inject market vitality.
In a decision signed by Premier Li Keqiang, the State Council said it would remove 48 non-administrative review items and move another 84 items into an internal review category.
"As of today, the category of non-administrative review and approval no longer exists," read the statement urging further streamlining and delegation.
Fighting red tape has taken on extra urgency as growth slows and the economy is steered away from an unsustainable model powered by state investment toward one driven by private consumption and services.
Non-administrative reviews date back to 2004, one year after China published its Law on Administrative Approval. According to Li Zhangze, spokesman for the team clearing up review items, most items back then involved only government internal reviews and approvals. More items were added in the following years covering areas ranging from local tourism to tax breaks. The system gradually became a hotbed for corruption as the process is not strictly standardized. Business creation, innovation and employment were stifled.
Any government department could set up a non-administrative review item, simply by issuing an official document under the pretext of so-called "internal procedures", Li said.
"In such circumstances, non-administrative reviews gradually became a 'grey zone' and a great number of items that came from these 'grey zones' did not comply with the Administrative Approval Law but had the nature of administrative reviews," he said, adding that the status quo ran counter to China's drive toward rule of law.
Xu Jimin of Sichuan University, said unlike administrative reviews regulated by the Law on Administrative Approval, non-administrative reviews are often a result of "self-authorization" by government agencies.
The central government has promised to cancel all non-administrative reviews this year.
"It goes without saying that powers should not be held without good reason," Premier Li said.