The central government has set a timetable for the reform of government spending on vehicles, aiming to scrap the supply of vehicles for regular government affairs.
According to a guideline unveiled on Wednesday, central government departments are required to complete the vehicle reform by the end of this year, while the reform for local governments will be finished next year. Other public sector bodies, including State-owned enterprises and institutes, have to complete the reform within two to three years.
According to the guideline, officials from central departments could receive monthly traffic subsidies of 1,300 yuan ($209), 800 yuan or 500 yuan depending on their ranking.
Expenses for government vehicles, receptions and overseas trips, known as the "three public expenses", have raised concerns in recent years over the large amount of money spent on them.
Lian Weiliang, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, said that the principle of the reform is frugality. He said that 60 percent of the "three public expenses" are for government vehicles.
About 4.2 billion yuan was spent last year on vehicles by 38 central government bodies and 389 affiliated institutions, the National Audit Office said last month.
A senior provincial-level official in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region told China Daily last year that his driver sometimes used government vehicles for private matters, and he always turned a blind eye to such misbehavior.
"About one-third of government vehicle use is directly related to public business, one-third is for officials' private use, while the other third is for the drivers," said the official, who declined to be identified.
The authorities have never released the total number of government vehicles, but Ye Qing, deputy director of Hubei Statistics Bureau, estimated there are more than 2 million government cars nationwide.
Yan Jirong, a professor at Peking University, said that the reform of government vehicles shows the top leadership's firm determination to save public costs and fight corruption.
TOP 3 BUDGETS FOR OFFICIAL VEHICLES IN 2014
1. State Administration of Taxation, 1.36 billion yuan
2. General Administration of Customs, 449 million yuan
3. General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, 269 million yuan