Fru­gal­ity cam­paign tames cor­rup­tion, cools ex­trav­a­gance

Cen­tral au­thor­i­ties work to main­tain ties with peo­ple

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By XIN­HUA

The Chi­nese cen­tral lead­er­ship’s fru­gal­ity cam­paign, which was launched in De­cem­ber 2012, fea­tures the “eight-point rules”, which aim to curb ex­trav­a­gance and im­prove of­fi­cials’ work style.

Sun­day marked the fourth an­niver­sary of the re­lease of the rules, which banned red­car­pet re­cep­tions for of­fi­cials and use of public ve­hi­cles for pri­vate af­fairs, re­duced pro forma meet­ings, avoided traf­fic dis­tur­bances such as road clo­sures, and or­dered aus­ter­ity in of­fi­cial meals, travel and housing.

Four years on, the cam­paign has showed no sign of fad­ing, and is still go­ing strong as the cen­tral au­thor­i­ties strive to main­tain close ties with the peo­ple and elim­i­nate both “tigers” (cor­rupt se­nior of­fi­cials) and “flies” (cor­rupt lower-level of­fi­cials).

According to the Com­mu­nist Party of China’s anti-graft agency, nearly 200,000 Party and gov­ern­ment staff have been pun­ished for vi­o­lat­ing the rules in the past four years, many who had held se­nior po­si­tions.

They were in­volved in more than 146,400 cases, about onequar­ter of which in­volved the use of public ve­hi­cles and din­ing out on public funds, the CPC Cen­tral Com­mis­sion for Dis­ci­pline In­spec­tion said.

The im­ple­men­ta­tion of the fru­gal­ity cam­paign must con­tinue and be tight­ened up ev­ery year.” Li Kang, re­searcher at Jiangxi Academy of So­cial Sciences

Con­sump­tion curbed

Gu Ji­uru, head chef at Quan­jude, a fa­mous roast duck restau­rant chain, said he used to wit­ness cor­rup­tion dur­ing of­fi­cial or com­pany re­cep­tions.

“The dishes were ex­pen­sive, and some even con­tained ‘for­bid­den in­gre­di­ents’, but they were more of­ten thrown around rather than eaten,” he said.

Such waste is a rar­ity now, according to Gu, who said he is happy about this change, de­spite the hit to his rev­enue.

In fact, China’s cater­ing in­dus­try was dealt a heavy blow by the aus­ter­ity rules, and many high-end restau­rants suffered for a time. The in­dus­try’s rev­enue growth slowed down in 2013 and 2014.

But sur­pris­ing changes fol­lowed. Many food and bev­er­age brands syn­ony­mous with lux­ury con­sump­tion cut their prices, got rid of their gaudy pack­ag­ing and in­creased more “low-end” prod­ucts, tap­ping the mass mar­kets of or­di­nary peo­ple.

For ex­am­ple, a fa­mous liquor brand cut the price of its flag­ship wine from more than 1,800 yuan ($260) per bot­tle to about 900 yuan per bot­tle, in­creas­ing sales.

In the first 10 months of this year, the rev­enue of China’s cater­ing in­dus­try grew by 10.9 per­cent year-on-year, and an­nual rev­enue is ex­pected to ex­ceed 3.5 tril­lion yuan.

China has va­cated and auc­tioned of­fi­cial cars and fur­ther reg­u­lated of­fi­cials’ use of public ve­hi­cles, sav­ing about 1.4 bil­lion yuan in car pur­chas­ing and main­te­nance.

Un­remit­ting, up­graded

The lat­est rules on of­fi­cials’ ben­e­fits, re­leased on Nov 30, stip­u­late that Party and State lead­ers should va­cate their of­fices in a timely man­ner upon re­tir­ing.

The new rules, re­garded as “an ex­pan­sion and up­grade” to the Party’s “eight-point rules”, also said of­fi­cials should “travel with­out pomp”, min­i­mize their im­pact on public life and not have ve­hi­cles ex­ceed­ing the set stan­dards.

In Au­gust 2013, the CCDI es­tab­lished a monthly re­port­ing sys­tem to mon­i­tor the im­ple­men­ta­tion of fru­gal­ity rules, nam­ing and sham­ing vi­o­la­tors on its web­site.

How­ever, CCDI sta­tis­tics in­di­cate that there is still much left to be done.

The sta­tis­tics showed that 33,532 vi­o­la­tions were re­ported from Jan­uary to Oc­to­ber this year, al­most the same num­ber re­ported for the whole of last year.

“The im­ple­men­ta­tion of the fru­gal­ity cam­paign must con­tinue and be tight­ened up ev­ery year,” said Li Kang of the Jiangxi Academy of So­cial Sciences.

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