Govt spending likely to be up for public scrutiny

Updated: 2011-11-22 08:12

By Zhao Yinan (China Daily)

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BEIJING - A draft proposal on regulating the spending on cars, receptions and trips meant for government departments by publishing the figures and inviting public responses was released on Monday. This was a step forward in legislation, in response to a year-long request to open the government's account book to public scrutiny.

The draft, released by the State Council's Legislative Affairs Office and Government Offices Administration, requested all governments above county-level to include the expenditure on the three items in their annual budget.

It also urged government departments, to go for a "price lower than the average market rate" when procuring office supplies or services.

Governments were told only to use "economic and environment-friendly", medium or low end cars, and to run them at a cost "lower than the average level of that of private cars".

All central government departments earlier released their spending on cars, receptions and trips in the last year, in response to the State Council's transparency campaign.

However, the expenditure showed in their reports was much less than what the public anticipated.

Ye Qing, deputy director of the Hubei provincial bureau of statistics, said the officially released figures sounded less credible since the three items were not listed under a separate head in the annual budget.

However, this was the first time the public got a glimpse of how the taxpayers' money was being spent on official cars, receptions and trips - an area of government expenses that have long been criticized for funds abuse.

"It is common for local governments to divert money from other projects to fund the three items, and the government departments usually don't publicize where the appropriated money goes," Ye said, adding that as a reason why the actual spending on the three items was often much more than what the governments claimed.

The expenditure on the three items, after the draft is passed, will be explicitly listed in the government's annual budget and facilitate legislators' supervision, Ye said.