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Provinces slash up to 30 percent in public expenses

2014-01-28 09:08 China Daily Web Editor: Wang Fan

Most provincial-level governments have slashed their budgets on official vehicles, banquets and overseas trips amid the central authorities' frugality campaign.  [Special coverage]

According to information published by 28 provincial-level governments, the budget for the "three public consumptions" — government vehicles, public receptions and overseas trips — has been cut by 5 to 30 percent compared with that of last year.

There are 31 provincial-level governments on the Chinese mainland and 28 of them had held their annual sessions of the regional people's congress as of Thursday. The other three provinces -— Hainan, Hunan and Anhui — will hold sessions in February.

The 28 provincial-level governments have vowed to improve their work styles and keep public expenses on a tight budget during the sessions.

Li Qiang, governor of Zhejiang province, pledged on Jan 16 that the province's "three public expenses" will be cut by 30 percent this year, which would be the largest drop among the provinces.

The money saved will be used to build water projects, improve water quality and control water pollution, he said in a provincial government work report.

Shaanxi province saved 70 million yuan ($11.56 million) from the "three public expenses" budget last year, and all of the money has been used to tackle air pollution.

Among the 28 provincial-level governments, Guangdong, Hubei, Shaanxi, Beijing and Shanghai have decreased their "three public expenses" budget by more than 10 percent.

The Guangdong government planned to spend 56.41 million yuan on overseas trips this year, down 25 percent from last year. It also cut the government vehicle budget from 500 million yuan last year to 435 million yuan this year, and the public receptions budget from 289 million yuan last year to 258 million yuan.

Some of the governments have made concrete rules to standardize public expenses on government vehicles, receptions and overseas trips.

For example, the Guangzhou city government in Guangdong province requires that the expense on each government vehicle should be less than 37,000 yuan each year.

The Wenzhou city government in Zhejiang province also requires that public banquets cost less than 60 yuan per person.

The local governments' budget-cutting practices are in line with rules made last year by the Communist Party of China Central Committee, which has repeatedly urged government officials to lead a frugal lifestyle.

In a regulation issued on Nov 25, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council urged government agencies to disclose information on public expenses, strictly curb unnecessary expenses and practice frugality in official receptions and trips.

In December 2012, the newly elected CPC Central Committee put forward the "eight-point rules", requiring government officials to win public favor by cleaning up undesirable work styles, including formalism and extravagance.

Zhu Lijia, a public administration professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the government should boost transparency and disclose to the public detailed information on expenses.

"For example, the government should elaborate why it plans to buy news cars this year and why the governor plans to travel overseas," he said, adding that the governments' efforts to slash public expenses still fall short of the people's demand.

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