Budget disclosures show cuts in provincial spending

By An Baijie (China Daily)

08:40, August 09, 2013

Eighteen of the 31 provincial-level governments on the Chinese mainland had released budgets online as of Thursday, showing a drop in spending on overseas trips, vehicles and receptions.

Such spending - known as the "three public consumptions" - has sparked public concern in recent years because of the large sum of money and lack of transparency.

Nearly all 18 authorities have cut their budgets for overseas trips, vehicles and receptions, although mostly by slight margins.

The Zhejiang provincial government announced a drop of 3.7 percent compared with last year, while the Beijing government promised a 0.9 percent decrease.

Among the authorities, 15 disclosed detailed information about this year's budget for overseas trips, vehicles and receptions, totaling 11.47 billion yuan ($1.87 billion).

The other three publicized only partial budgets.

The Beijing government ranked top for the amount spent, 1.11 billion yuan, followed by Shanghai, with 1.05 billion yuan spent.

Spending on government vehicles ranked highest, accounting for 65.8 percent of the total amount among the 15 provincial-level authorities that disclosed complete budgets, Beijing News reported.

The information disclosed by the government of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region was among the most detailed, showing 190,120 employees and 13,123 vehicles.

The central government said on Thursday that governments at all levels have been ordered to slash spending in line with a regulation put forward by Premier Li Keqiang.

The regulation, announced in March, includes a reduction in spending on both government employees and the "three public consumptions".

Violations have not been completely eliminated, the central government said, vowing to enhance supervision and look into problems in the implementation of the regulation.

Spending on government buildings has largely been contained and the measures have proved effective, it said.

In July, the central government ordered all 31 provincial-level governments to publicize spending on overseas trips, vehicles and receptions. It also urged all city and county governments to disclose spending on these items by 2015.

However, 13 provincial-level governments had not revealed budgets on their websites as of Thursday.

Fan Bonai, a professor of public administration at Zhejiang University, said governments should disclose more detailed information on public expenses.

"The government should tell the people which areas of public expenditure have been cut, which parts have increased and why," he said.

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