More Supervision on Gov't Spending Needed

Government expenditure should receive more transparent supervision from the public, top political advisers appealed yesterday.
"Pandora's box will be opened if governments at all levels lack enough supervision on their expenditure," said Chen Shouyi, a member of the 10th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
A district government in the city of Linfen, in North China's Shanxi Province, spent 70 million yuan (US$8.6 million) on a replica of Tian'anmen Rostrum in Beijing, a symbol of China.
Offices of many local governments are built in accordance with five-star hotel standards. "The State Council seems to be far inferior compared with local government buildings," Chen said.
He attributed the malpractices to the lack of restrictive measures over government expenditure from State revenues, which are collected mainly through taxation.
While being lavish on their own spending, some governments are tight fisted in education, social security, scientific research and rural investment, according to Chen Changzhi, vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the China Democratic National Construction Association and vice-minister of supervision.
Twenty-three percent of all expenditure was spent by governments in administrative management.
However, only 10 percent of governments' expenditure was spent on supporting economic and social undertakings for rural residents, who account for some 63 percent of the total population on the mainland.
Lack of education, social security and scientific research investment has resulted in backward social development compared with the economic advance.
"Financial expenditure of governments has to be rectified," Chen Changzhi appealed.
Representing the Central Committee of the China Democratic National Construction Association, he advised a deepening of the country's State revenue system reforms.
"Administrative expenditure should decrease, as well as investment in infrastructure facility construction," he said.
Investment in rural development and the public sector, such as education, science and technology, culture and health should be enhanced.
According to Chen Changzhi, the social security sector should also receive more government investment. "Government expenditure should accept inquiries from taxpayers," he said.
Taxpayers could report to the people's congresses the lawmaking bodies on the holes they find in governments' spending of their tax donations, according to Chen Changzhi.
Chen Shouyi suggested including all extra-budget revenues and government expenditure in budgets.
According to Chinese law, the budget has to receive approval from the people's congresses.
In reality, extra-budgetary revenues and government expenditure are totally controlled by the governments themselves without any supervision from the people's congresses and the public.
"We must ascertain responsibilities of those officials who misuse their powers by spending taxpayers' donations however they like," Chen Shouyi said.
Governments should not only make public their extra-budgetary revenues and expenditures, but also explain to taxpayers when they decide to make big investments.
"We, the tax payers, have a total right to know how our money is being used and whether it is reasonable," he said.

(China Daily March 9, 2006)


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