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Penalties Warned for Gov't Extravagance
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As the deadline for the voluntary reporting of extravagant government buildings draws near, China's disciplinary watchdog warned on Monday that any person or organization trying to conceal violations will face penalties.

Party and government departments at all levels have until June 20 to report on official buildings that contravene the regulations, issued in March by the central government to ban the construction of wasteful and extravagant government buildings.

"Perfunctory performance, cheating or cover-ups in the voluntary investigation are prohibited and those involved should be dealt with seriously," said Liu Xirong, deputy secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Liu told Xinhua that the central government would start a nationwide survey of the extravagant official buildings at the end of June after local authorities submitted their reports.

The regulations issued by the State Council and the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China detailed banned features, including excessive size, decoration and number of facilities.

Local party and government departments are also banned from commissioning extravagant buildings with bank loans, collection of unwarranted revenues, donations and misappropriation of government poverty-alleviation and disaster-relief funds.

Ministerial level buildings should not be constructed at a cost of more than 4,000 yuan (US$512) per square meter, municipal level buildings at 3,000 yuan per square meter and county level buildings at 2,500 yuan.

Liu said the construction of lavish official buildings, including departmental hotels and entertainment centers, had been rampant in recent years, triggering public discontent.

"Such violations waste huge sums of public funds, increase the financial burden on the public, denigrate Party and government ethical codes and corrupt social values," he said.

Liu said all government buildings constructed after Jan. 1, 2005, and those under development were targeted, and Party committees, governments, legislative and political advisory bodies at all levels were under scrutiny.

At the start of this month, the CPC disciplinary watchdog announced penalties for more than 20 local officials for ordering the construction of extravagant official buildings.

(Xinhua News Agency June 19, 2007)

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