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Reducing Government Cars

It is better to reduce the number of government cars before checking the development of private cars if the authorities really want to release the pressure on urban traffic and the environment, says an article in China Youth Daily. An excerpt follows:

Deputy chief of Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, Pei Chenghu, was quoted by the Xinhua News Agency recently as saying, "We will neither control nor limit the growth of private cars, but we will put a check on them."

His words have aroused much media attention. People concerned are interpreting them as a signal that the capital city is to take measures to restrict the number of private cars. This is a hot topic all over the country.

According to Beijing's urban plan, the capital city will have a population of 18 million by 2020. And the number of automobiles will reach 5 million by that time, 2 million more than the current number. Of the total, government cars occupy a large share.

The check on the development of private cars is aimed at releasing the pressure on urban traffic and the environment. But the current traffic and pollution problems are caused by both government vehicles and private cars.

To reduce the number of government cars first may be a better way to reduce the pressure on cities.

Compared with developed countries, the number of private cars in China is still small. And the auto industry should be a pillar industry in developing the national economy.

The development of private cars is a major factor in promoting the auto industry.

The problem of too many government vehicles is a pressing issue. They have led to a huge waste of public money and the "special privilege" mentality of many officials. Government cars are used much more often than private cars.

Of course, it is more difficult to reduce the number of government cars than to check the number of private cars. If economic measures were taken, many families would have to give up their dream of buying a car due to the increased maintenance costs. If administrative methods were taken, ordinary people would not be able to get the automobile licence plates. But things are different for government cars. Economic or administrative means can hardly stop government departments' car purchases and use.

Reforms involving government car use have been carried out, but the results are not satisfying.

It is a pressing issue to reduce the number of government cars in order to cut public expenditure and to relieve pressure on urban traffic and the environment as well.

(China Daily April 13, 2005)


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