Sales of postcards drop amid push for austerity

Updated: 2013-11-26 01:08

By Hou Liqiang (China Daily)

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Printers claim SOEs scrapping orders of gifts

Companies making calendars and greeting cards say they have seen a huge drop in orders after the Party's top discipline body banned officials spending public money on their products.

Sales of postcards drop amid push for austerityThe Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced the ban on Oct 31, forbidding Party organs, government departments, State-owned enterprises and public institutions from buying, printing, mailing and handing out New Year cards, postcards and calendars.

The move was seen as the latest attempt to promote frugality and curb extravagance among officials.

In recent years, local governments and institutions have bought, printed and given away a large number of cards and calendars at the Spring Festival holiday, the commission said, adding that as the materials have become more luxurious, the waste in public funds has become more serious.

On Oct 14, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission issued a notice saying the authority will strengthen supervision and inspection as well as strictly prohibit State-owned enterprises from buying, printing, mailing and giving away New Year cards.

While figures on the amount of public money spent on greeting cards, postcards and calendars every year are unavailable, a county official in Jiangxi province, who gave only her surname, Li, said her government purchases 40,000 New Year cards or postcards every year for about 5 yuan (80 cents) each.

While civil servants can each get 10 cards, some officials may ask for more than 150, she said.

"Some cards are sent in the name of individuals, some are sent in the name of departments to higher level governments or officials," Li added.

Xinhua News Agency also quoted another county official in Central China as saying, "the money used (in his county) to buy cards is more than 300,000 yuan, equivalent to the money needed to build a Hope Primary School".

There are more than 2,800 county-level administrative regions and more than 300 city-level administrative regions in China, as well as thousands of State-owned enterprises and public institutions.

The Bank of China's Zhejiang branch has scrapped a plan to purchase 73,900 wall calendars, 52,600 desk calendars and 26,000 postcards, Xinhua reported.

The ban, however, is potentially a disaster for companies that make postcards and calendars.

Fu Xiang, assistant general manager of Beijing Topcent Printing, said his company has a business volume of about 50 million yuan from purchases by government organs and big, centrally administered State-owned enterprises, but this may be slashed by half this year.

His company mainly prints postcards, calendars, Spring Festival scrolls and publicity materials.

"The business is certainly affected, but the market for postcards and calendars has been declining and the effect from the ban is still controllable for us," Fu said, adding that he still sees a demand for desk calendars for office workers.

He said general manager at other companies told him business had been seriously affected by the ban. "Several told me they have even seen more than 100 orders canceled in a day," he said.

Chen Xiaoying, manager of Beijing Yinyi Shidai Printing, which prints calendars, said she saw a 50 percent drop in her company's business, compared with the same period last year.

"It's not only government organs that have canceled orders. Big companies have stopped ordering, too," she said. "Some orders before were for more than 100,000 calendars and even 200,000. But now it's common to see orders of only 2,000 to 3,000."