The local government of one of the poorest regions in China has been criticized by the public for spending more than 18 million yuan (US$2.86 million) on expensive cars for official use.
The Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region local government announced on its website Monday that the financial depart-ment had procured 71 cars at a cost of 18.82 million yuan, 25 of which are Audi A6 cars. The cost of the Audi cars alone comes to nearly 9 million yuan (US$1.37 million).
According to regulations issued by the central government in 1999, official cars at deputy-provincial level should not cost more than 350,000 yuan each. The price of the Audi cars purchased by the Ningxia financial department cost 349,800 yuan ($53,000) each, only 200 yuan (US$30) less than the stipulated limit.
The GDP of Ningxia ranked 29th out of all the 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities in the Chinese mainland in 2008 and 2009, and was far less than that of the booming coastal provinces.
The extravagance of the procurement led to heated online discussion, with many web users shocked at the number of luxury official cars purchased, and others questioning why the money was spent in such a way.
An official from the local financial department said that the cars would be distributed to about 40 government depart-ments in Ningxia, including the general office of the local CPC committee, the general office of the standing committee of the local People's Congress, the public security department, the human resources department, and the auditing bureau, according to a report in the Southern Metropolis Daily.
He did not explain why the local government chose to purchase the luxury brand. Calls from the Global Times to the procurement center of the financial department went unanswered.