Belt tight­en­ing

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AN BAIJIE an­bai­jie@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Lo­cal gov­ern­ments cut their bud­gets slightly af­ter cen­tral au­thor­i­ties urge curbs on pub­lic spend­ing.

Eigh­teen of the 31 provin­cial-level gov­ern­ments on the Chi­nese main­land had re­leased bud­gets on­line as of Thurs­day, show­ing a drop in spend­ing on over­seas trips, ve­hi­cles and re­cep­tions.

Such spend­ing — known as the “three pub­lic con­sump­tions” — has sparked pub­lic con­cern in re­cent years be­cause of the large sum of money and lack of trans­parency.

Nearly all 18 au­thor­i­ties have cut their bud­gets for over­seas trips, ve­hi­cles and re­cep­tions, al­though mostly by slight mar­gins.

The Zhe­jiang provin­cial govern­ment an­nounced a drop of 3.7 per­cent com­pared with last year, while the Bei­jing govern­ment promised a 0.9 per­cent de­crease.

Among the au­thor­i­ties, 15 dis­closed de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about this year’s bud­get for over­seas trips, ve­hi­cles and re­cep­tions, to­tal­ing 11.47 bil­lion yuan ($1.87 bil­lion).

The other three pub­li­cized only par­tial bud­gets.

The Bei­jing govern­ment ranked top for the amount spent, 1.11 bil­lion yuan, fol­lowed by Shang­hai, with 1.05 bil­lion yuan spent.

Spend­ing on govern­ment ve­hi­cles ranked high­est, ac­count­ing for 65.8 per­cent of the to­tal amount among the 15 provin­cial-level au­thor­i­ties that dis­closed com­plete bud­gets, Bei­jing News re­ported.

The in­for­ma­tion dis­closed by the govern­ment of the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion was among the most de­tailed, show­ing 190,120 em­ploy­ees and 13,123 ve­hi­cles.

The cen­tral govern­ment said on Thurs­day that gov­ern­ments at all lev­els have been or­dered to slash spend­ing in line with a reg­u­la­tion put for­ward by Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang.

The reg­u­la­tion, an­nounced in March, in­cludes a re­duc­tion in spend­ing on both govern­ment em­ploy­ees and the “three pub­lic con­sump­tions”.

Vi­o­la­tions have not been com­pletely elim­i­nated, the cen­tral govern­ment said, vow­ing to en­hance su­per­vi­sion and look into prob­lems in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the reg­u­la­tion.

Spend­ing on govern­ment build­ings has largely been con­tained and the mea­sures have proved ef­fec­tive, it said.

In July, the cen­tral govern­ment or­dered all 31 provin­cial­level gov­ern­ments to pub­li­cize spend­ing on over­seas trips, ve­hi­cles and re­cep­tions. It also urged all city and county gov­ern­ments to dis­close spend­ing on th­ese items by 2015.

How­ever, 13 provin­cial-level gov­ern­ments had not re­vealed bud­gets on their web­sites as of Thurs­day.

Fan Bonai, a pro­fes­sor of pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion at Zhe­jiang Univer­sity, said gov­ern­ments should dis­close more de­tailed in­for­ma­tion on pub­lic ex­penses.

“The govern­ment should tell the peo­ple which ar­eas of pub­lic ex­pen­di­ture have been cut, which parts have in­creased and why,” he said.

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