24 departments disclose expenses

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, July 17, 2011
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A total of 24 of the 98 central departments have disclosed their expenses for "overseas trips, receptions, and purchase and maintenance of official vehicles" amid rising public calls for transparency of government expenditure.

Eight central departments, including the Ministries of Commerce, Supervision, Health, Transport and Science and Technology, the National Development and Reform Commission, the State Intellectual Property Office and the Development Research Center of the State Council, or Cabinet, published Friday their 2010 expenditures and 2011 budget.

Since May, the State Council has repeatedly called on its ministries to reduce "squandering practices" and make their fiscal information public in more areas and "provide greater details," especially regarding using funds for the "three public consumptions" -- overseas travel, receptions and official cars, since excessive expenditures on the three areas have long been criticized as "sources of corruption and waste."

According to the website of the Ministry of Commerce, about 94 percent of the ministry's expenditure on the three items was spent on overseas trips, or nearly 58 million yuan (8.96 million U.S. dollars), an unusually high proportion compared to that of other departments.

"This is closely related to China's increasing status in global business landscape," said the ministry's spokesman Yao Jian.

He defended the high overseas travel expenses by saying that China ranked the first in the current global trade, compared with the 32nd three decades ago.

"China holds 50 to 60 bilateral trade meetings and several negotiations on free trade zones each year, required by the country's economic development and reform and opening up," he said.

The Ministry of Transport's expenses on official vehicles in 2010 reached 82.56 million yuan and its 2011 budget reached nearly 88.72 million yuan, the highest among the 24 departments disclosing fiscal information.

An unnamed transport ministry spokesman said that as the ministry is in charge of transport safety supervision in areas along the coasts and rivers and on islands, and each supervising agency serves a large area. Therefore, "the frequent use of vehicles and the rising fuel cost contributed greatly to the high vehicle expense."

The expense published by the National Audit Office has been praised by the public as it includes specific information on overseas trips and the cost for purchase and maintenance of specific cars, whereas most departments only give a general figure.

While more central government departments are expected to disclose expenses of the three areas next week, the public still wants more details to be included on how the money has been spent.

Ye Qing, a national lawmaker, said he hoped more central departments would publish more detailed expenses.

Last month, the top legislature approved the final account of 2010 central spending, and for the first time, it included a special section on expenses of the central government's "three public consumptions."

Ministry of Finance statistics show that the central departments and government-owned public institutions spent 9.47 billion yuan on the three items in 2010.

Many Chinese have accused the government of deliberately omitting information regarding their extravagant spending of public funds on receptions, official cars, or other personal expenses in their fiscal statement.

In mid-April, an online posting revealed that the Guangdong branch of Sinopec, a well-known state-owned petroleum refiner enterprise, spent more than 1 million yuan on expensive liquor.

China issued a regulation on government transparency in 2008, that requests administrative agencies to disclose certain information that involve citizens' interests.

Since then, information about the state's central budget and expenditures of over 70 central government departments have been made public.

In March, Premier Wen Jiabao urged the country's government agencies to reduce administrative expenses, including cutting spending on overseas business trips, reforming the system for government service cars, and cutting the number of meetings and documents.

China's crackdown on various forms of extravagant spending by officials saved the country 5.7 billion yuan last year, according to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China.

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