A National People's Congress (NPC) deputy from east China's Jiangxi Province said she will propose that expenditure for national environmental protection efforts be guaranteed in the country's budget at the ongoing Third Session of the 10th NPC.
Xu Suhui, head of Jiangxi Environmental Protection Bureau, said she will suggest that the Ministry of Finance set up an "environmental protection" item when putting the national budget together, according to the Beijing News.
Similar moves have been deliberated upon by NPC deputies from Fujian Province, also in the east of the country, in order to guarantee financial support for environmental protection at various levels, the newspaper said.
According to the report, environmental protection currently does not enjoy fixed financial support or investment, a situation that does not meet economic and social development needs. This means that the amount of money spent on the issue locally is often far less that that originally pledged.
Internationally, environmental protection funding can take up as much as 2 percent of a country's gross domestic product. But in China the percentage is estimated to be 1.5 percent.
Environmental bodies in underdeveloped regions of the nation can be frustrated in their work by a shortage of funding.
According to the environmental protection bureau of Guangyuan in southwest China's Sichuan Province, its budget for 2004 was more than 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million). Yet it only actually received 4.97 million yuan (US$600,000).
"The lack of a firm guarantee for funds definitely affects the operation of the bureau," a staffer there was quoted as saying.
They said expenditure in fields such as environmental supervision, information studies and management of radioactive and hazardous waste, are simply excluded from the local government's financial budget.
Fujian Environmental Protection Bureau Chief Li Zaiming told the newspaper that a shortage of funds has meant the province has failed to strengthen its environmental monitoring capacity.
According to Li, Fujian's provincial government had only allocated 30 million yuan (US$3.6 million) in the past two years for capacity building. This had to be supplemented with county-level sources, to achieve a total of nearly 50 million yuan (US$6 million).
Even this was only enough to equip half the monitoring bodies in the province, Li said.
(China Daily, March 7, 2005)