Key words: talent introduction, house purchase subsidy, public interest, financial justice
In recent years, in order to introduce talents, many local governments have adopted large financial subsidies (hereinafter referred to as purchase subsidies) as incentives for individual purchase of houses. The maximum amount of a single house has reached 8 million yuan, which seems to be growing, causing many concerns and disputes. In view of the vital public interests of taxpayers and the public, it is necessary to take a serious look to promote broad social consensus.
In a sense, housing subsidies provide an excellent opportunity for Chinese people to think deeply about a key issue. The key question is: how to ensure that the management of public funds is strictly consistent with the public interest and the people-centered development idea?
Forming clear insights and consensus on this issue can serve as a logical starting point for solving a series of deep-seated problems in the process of public finance reform and even the modernization of national governance system. Up to now, these deep-seated problems still deeply perplex Chinas financial governance and public governance.
1u3001 On taxpayers and public interest
It is very important to realize clearly that the money for house purchase subsidy belongs to public funds (public funds) and not government money. Government expenditure is public expenditure, all of which comes from public funds. Public funds are taxpayers money. Every penny the government spends is the taxpayers money - thats it, excluding external donations. To confirm, respect and face up to this irrefutable fact is the starting point for us to think about what a good public funds management should be, and it is also a significant sign for a society to step into the modernization process.
In the era of human autocracy, that is, the integration of national finance and royal finance, there is no concept and practice of public funds and public interests in the sense of today. This is normal in jurisprudence. However, after human beings enter the era of democracy, public funds and public interests must be considered based on the position of taxpayers. No matter the legal principle, logic or practice, the reason is very simple and powerful: every penny spent by the government is the money of taxpayers.
Considering whether the house purchase subsidy is appropriate, we must adopt the taxpayers position: what will the taxpayer think of this problem? Although it is difficult for taxpayers to express their opinions on the spot - agree or disagree, or even be unaware (at least at the level of details), this does not mean that taxpayers have no rights, nor that these rights can be ignored or ignored.
As long as the taxpayers right is confirmed, when the taxpayer is unable to express his opinions on the spot, people can reasonably infer: under what circumstances will the taxpayer express his approval or disapproval?
You can imagine two answers that seem reasonable at least, both of which come from the well-known principle of benefit - the principle of compatibility of fairness and efficiency:
Taxpayers will only agree to pay for the benefit
Without the expected benefits, taxpayers will not agree to pay. Talent is just a title, and senior talent is also a title - a higher level title. The title is the title ultimately, and there is no basic relationship between the title and the expected benefit, because the title can exist independently - independent of contribution. In other words, titles can exist independently even if the talents introduced have no contribution to local taxpayers. Therefore, there is no proper reason for taxpayers to agree with the purchase subsidy. This is based on prior reasoning.
Taxpayers will only agree to benefit from payment
Even if the taxpayer agrees to pay because of the expected benefit, the possibility of real benefit after the event may not be very high. It is true that the possibility of benefit after the event always exists, but the possibility of not benefit after the event still exists. So the focus is whats the probability of benefit afterwards? Due to the lack of many key details and case evidence, it can be judged that the probability is not high. In this case, the basic connection between the taxpayers payment (loss) and benefit (income) is cut off. Foreseeing this outcome, it can be inferred that the taxpayer has no proper reason to approve the purchase subsidy; unless both parties clearly sign the following contract: if the subsequent evaluation confirms that no agreed relevant contribution has been made, then the original purchase subsidy will be recovered and bear the relevant costs.
As for the real contribution made to the local area by the target agreed by the rewarded afterwards, it is totally another matter - on merit and reward. Where is the credit under the purchase subsidy linked to Title rather than actual contribution? It is believed that no one will agree that no merit will be paid, nor will there be any in the world. On merit and reward, we must base on the strict result orientation: if there is no result, how to reward?
2u3001 Demonstration of formal justice based on public interest
The fact that it is difficult to define precisely what is the public interest and the lack of universal standards creates many opportunities for the practice of non-public interest in the name of public interest. There are two ways to remedy this:
Justice standard test
The test that inclusive public interest meets two justice standards: formal justice and substantive justice. Dissatisfaction or not satisfied at the same time is the illusory public interest. Justice is a fundamental principle that all civilized societies should uphold, and it is as important as another real fundamental principle, social reconciliation.
The justice test of inclusive public interest involves two aspects: formal justice and substantive justice. This part discusses the test of formal justice. The test of substantive justice is discussed in the third part.
Formal justice focuses on refusing to harm the public interest through due process. As far as public expenditure is concerned, the focus of due process is legal authorization: the administrative department can neither take money from citizens and enterprises, nor implement any expenditure, unless it is formally approved by citizens or the legislature on behalf of citizens. The primary function of the public budget system lies in this, which is rooted in the constitutional principle of peoples sovereignty and the provisions of the constitution that the budget must be approved by the peoples Congress.
In a democratic society, it is an important matter in public life for citizens or their representatives to review and approve the budget. It provides a critical firewall to prevent the risk of misuse and misuse of public funds and ensure that all public funds can only be spent under the legal constraints. Therefore, the government budget document (report) must first be a legal document, then a policy document. Here, a legal document is a budget report approved by the peoples Congress at the corresponding level and valid for a specific fiscal year.
In this sense, three formal justice tests are required for the purchase subsidy:
The house purchase subsidy has been included in the budget and formally approved by the peoples Congress at the same level
If the purchase subsidy is not included in the budget, the test will not be satisfied. This means that the corresponding expenditure is shielded from the publics view and out of the democratic control procedure, which will cause many risks that are harmful to the public interest, and also violate the provisions of the current budget law that all government revenues and expenditures should be included in the budget.
We listened to the opinions of voters and all sectors of society before the budget was approved
Article 45 of the current budget law stipulates: before the peoples Government congresses of counties, autonomous counties, cities not divided into districts, municipal districts, townships, nationality townships, and towns hold meetings to review the draft budget, they shall, in various forms, organize deputies to the peoples congresses at the corresponding levels and listen to the opinions of the people and all sectors of society. There is no doubt that this provision also applies to housing subsidies. This provision is completely consistent with the provisions of the decision of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee on the mechanism of Deliberative Democracy: build a deliberative democracy system with reasonable procedures and complete links, improve the implementation mechanism of consultation before and during the implementation of decision-making, and enrich the institutionalized practice of good consultation and public consultation.
Housing subsidies must be approved by the peoples Congress at the same level separately
House purchase subsidy is typically a major issue in the budget, which should be reviewed and approved separately as an independent project in accordance with the relevant provisions of the budget law. The separate examination and approval is also in full conformity with the provisions of Article 46 of the budget law that the draft budget submitted to the peoples congresses at all levels for examination and approval shall be detailed. In addition, the need for independent approval is based on the idea that natural things (such as treating diseases to restore health) do not need to be specifically demonstrated, unnatural things (such as taking supplements for longevity) need to be specifically demonstrated. In the sense that the house purchase subsidy belongs to one person gets all the benefits and the rest cant, it obviously belongs to unnatural things, and it is necessary to approve it separately in the budget process.
3u3001 Demonstration of substantial justice based on public interest
Formal justice focuses on approval: in an ideal situation, it is the direct or unanimous approval of taxpayers; the second best choice is the approval of taxpayers representatives (NPC representatives). The process of expressing approval is also the process of preventing damage to public interest. In the sense that taxpayers or their representatives can and have expressed their approval, we can think that the purchase subsidy does not harm the public interest.
Therefore, the legitimacy and rationality of the purchase subsidy must also be tested by substantive justice, covering three specific tests:
u00b7Substantive relevance to public interest
As mentioned before, the public purpose of house purchase subsidy and support, in the sense of one person benefits all, others benefit none, is not substantially related to inclusive public interest. Therefore, even if we act in the name of the public, it does not satisfy the substantial relevance test of the reality of the public interest.
u00b7Match between means and ends
u00b7Effectiveness between means and ends
Even if the purchase subsidy matches the properly defined public interest, it cannot reasonably guarantee that the talents introduced can make a proportionate contribution to the local public interest or the agreed goals, because there is a lack of a series of related mechanisms in the middle, such as verifiable, supervised and realizable contractual commitments.
u00b7Irreplaceable between means and purposes
It can be reasonably inferred from the relevant information publicly available at present, there is no place where the purchase subsidy can pass the above substantive justice test. This means that even after passing the formal justice test, there is no substantial reason to support the purchase subsidy.
4u3001 What is the best way to introduce talents?
What needs to be confirmed is: in the absence of credible and reliable relevant systems and implementation mechanisms, the introduction of local talents itself has a high risk of sliding to formalism: the huge house purchase subsidies linked to titles will be imposed on taxpayers without any reason, resulting in an unjust distribution pattern of privatization of interests and socialization of burdens in public finance, and thus people-centered Development ideas are contrary. Once the vicious competition is formed on a large scale, the negative effects and consequences will become difficult to control.
This does not mean that introducing talents locally is not desirable, but that a seemingly desirable policy can only be recognized as truly desirable when certain basic conditions are met. This is true of all public policies, without exception.
As far as the subsidy policy for house purchase is concerned, there are three basic conditions to be met: (1) the position of taxpayers, (2) the formal justice test, and (3) the substantive justice test. The three conditions are not harsh, but conditions that can be fully realized at a reasonable cost. The only thing that matters is to scrutinize rigorously whether some principles that public funds management must meet are met. The only test here is whether we can have some professional insights, and whether we really adhere to the people-centered development idea.
People can also ask: if talents do not enter the local area, can they not be used locally? Is it necessary to enter the local area to play the role of talents? The answer is likely to be No.
People also need to ask: is it reasonable to give a huge reward based on title rather than real contribution even if the required working hours are reached? Does a reasonable reward for a difficult problem only need to be linked to title and entry rather than to real contribution? The answer is probably no, too.
If we stick to practice as the only standard to test the truth, if we stick to the result orientation - the hero of results, if we stick to the inclusive public interest above all, if we stick to the peoples interests as the center, then it is important and urgent to scrutinize and reflect on the increasingly generalized housing subsidies.
This article is the exclusive contribution of Netease Research Bureau and does not constitute an investment decision.
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