Details of the salaries of civil servants in a city in Central China's Hunan province have been revealed online after a password for the government website was leaked.
Net users were surprised to find the salaries were lower than they expected, with most being in the 2,000 to 4,000 yuan ($330 to $660) per month range. Others pointed out that there would be additional hidden "grey" income - a claim which the local government has denied.
According to a post by Net user "Dancing Angel" in online forum tianya.cn on January 25, one could check all the monthly salaries of civil servants at Lengshuijiang, a county-level city, by entering the password "123456" at the local salary management website.
Zhang Dongfeng, a reporter from the Nandu Daily, said he tried the password on Monday and was able to access all the salary information. But by Tuesday it no longer worked.
The salary information included details of employees at 227 government agencies in Lengshuijiang, the Nandu Daily reported.
As Net users expressed surprise and skepticism at how low the salaries were, and said that these civil servants would be unable to afford to buy a house, others pointed out that the civil servants' salaries were already at the middle or upper middle levels for that city.
Li Chaoxing, a local company employee, told the Global Times that the average monthly income of local people is between 1,500 and 2,500 yuan per month.
Housing prices range from 2,600 to 3,200 yuan per square meter, he said.
An official surnamed Xiao from the salary management center under the Lengshuijiang finance bureau told the Global Times on Tuesday that she did not know who had chosen the password or who had changed it.
"All the salaries shown on it are true and there is no hidden income," Xiao said, adding that her 1,700 yuan monthly salary was sufficient for her needs.
The salaries of civil servants are set according to the country's laws and regulations, an official from the publicity department of the Lengshuijiang Party committee, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Global Times via e-mail.
The salary website was established in 2008 to allow local officials and government staff to check their salaries and supervise each other, the official said.
Recently, Chen Juzhen, the Party chief in Zhulin town in Hubei province, and also a member of the Hubei Provincial People's Congress, told the media that her monthly salary is 2,400 yuan and said "any worker's salary is more than mine." The comment aroused heated discussion.
With the implementation of the eight principles issued by the central government in late 2012 to advocate frugality and combat corruption, civil servants have complaint that their incomes are too low and they now lack the previous benefits that made the job worthwhile, said Song Ze, a professor at the Institute of Finance and Trade Economics, under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
"Civil servants in lower level government agencies surely receive low salaries. But no one knows how much hidden income they have," Song said, noting greater transparency is needed.
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