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Officials go the extra mile to serve residents

Source: Time: 16 07,2021

Residents in the village of Zhangjiawan in Lingqiu read job information posted on a vehicle dispatched by the county government. Sending employment information to villagers is part of the local government’s efforts to better serve the people.Wang Zhongxun/For China Daily  

Cui Yuhuan, 92, and his wife received a visit by a township official on July 8 at their home in Nandali township in Xiaxian county in the south of Shanxi province.

The official visited to help the couple apply for an injury-care subsidy for seniors after he read a report from their family members on a local e-government platform.

The couple had been injured several days earlier while walking. Their sons and daughters were informed that seniors could receive a subsidy for injury care from the local government. Even better, the entire application could be processed online.

"I never expected the official to come so soon after my son scanned a QR code," Cui said. "Everything about the application was completed during the official's visit. We didn't have the bother of traveling to the township government several kilometers away."

There are 10 villages under the administration of Nandali township, scattered in the valleys and on the hills. "It takes a long time for villagers to go to the township government for public services," said Zhang Zhirong, head of the township government.

Offering convenience to residents in public services has always been a top concern for local officials, Zhang said.

Zhang and his colleagues decided to innovate their ways by offering services using modern information technologies. They developed a platform for mobile phone users so that a majority of public service-related procedures can be handled online.

"We have posted notices in visible places across every village to inform residents about the operation of the platform," Zhang said. "And there are QR codes along with the notices so that villagers can connect to our platform."

The official said residents can easily browse information about various service procedures, including materials needed for the services and names and telephone numbers of officials in charge. "Residents can also book services to be handled at their homes if they have difficulties in traveling."

Zhang admitted public services offered that way demand greater efforts from officials than ever.

"But the efforts are rewarding if we can do something to address residents' concerns," Zhang said.

Nandali township is just one example of how officials in Shanxi are using the latest IT to improve governance at community level.

A similar example is taking place in Longquan township in Yanggao county in the northern Shanxi city of Datong.

On July 8, Yan Zhenguo, an agronomist from the county's bureau of agriculture and rural affairs, visited a vegetable farm in the township to provide technical instructions to local growers.

Yan said he came to the farm after receiving requests from farmers through a WeChat mini program.

Zhang Xianyun, a vegetable grower in Longquan, said he was very happy to be served by an expert like Yang.

"He is an experienced agronomist and can solve almost all of the technical problems related to vegetable farming," Zhang Xianyun said. "He can be easily contacted when local farmers make a phone call or send a WeChat message and he is always keen to help."

The Yanggao bureau of agriculture and rural affairs has a team of farming experts, with local agronomists and experts from the rest of Shanxi among its members.

Over the past several months, the team has paid 18 visits to rural areas in Yanggao to offer technical solutions to farmers on site. The experts also held six training sessions for more than 240 farmers, according to officials at the bureau.

In Jincheng city in southeastern Shanxi, there is an online legal service platform that helps local laborers protect their rights.

The platform is operated by the Trade Union of Jincheng and a number of local lawyers offer services through the platform.

A recent complaint that the platform handled came from Guo Qiang, a salesman at a local garment factory.

Guo wanted to settle a dispute with his employer. He said he asked for a leave for about 20 days in October last year due to illness but the company only paid him 802 yuan ($124) as sick pay for the period and he thought this was much lower than the standard according to the law.

He put forward a request for legal assistance on the platform and a lawyer came to help within days. With the mediation of the lawyer, Guo's company agreed to pay him the right amount according to the law.

"I appreciate the efficiency of the platform and the lawyer," Guo said. "More importantly, the service is offered for free."

Ren Youfu, an official at the trade union, said the union represents local laborers and has a responsibility to serve them.

"All the laborers in Jincheng can use the platform to solve their disputes and all the costs relating to legal services are covered by a special fund set aside by the trade union," Ren said.

According to the official, the platform has offered consultations to more than 1,880 people. It has settled 48 dispute cases, helping laborers secure a total of 16 million yuan in compensation.

Guo Yanjie contributed to this story.

By Yuan Shenggao