Central govt departments fail to disclose spending

Updated: 2011-07-08 07:25


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BEIJING - Almost all central government departments, excluding the Ministry of Science and Technology (MST), failed to publish expenses for "overseas trips, vehicles and receptions" by the end of June, a deadline set by the State Council.

The government's "opaque" spending has exacerbated public concerns about potential corruption and extravagance on the part of officials.

Since May, the State Council has repeatedly called on its ministries to reduce "squandering practices" and make their fiscal information public in more areas and "provide greater details", especially regarding funds used for the "three public consumptions" - overseas travel, receptions and official cars - as these items have long been criticized as "sources of corruption and waste".

However, only the MST heeded the central government's call to keep people informed about how public funds are spent, with other departments citing "technical problems", which netizens dismissed as an "excuse".

The MST published its 2011 budget in April, with detailed explanations to address public concerns on the "three public consumptions", on which the budget says the ministry plans to spend about 40.2 million yuan ($6.18 million) this year.

Moreover, the Chinese Academy of Engineering, a major government think tank, also published its 2010 expenditure on the three items and 2011 budget for overseas travel on its website on Wednesday afternoon.

Last week, the top legislature approved the final account of 2010 central spending, and for the first time it included a special section on the central government's "three public consumptions".

Statistics provided by Minister of Finance Xie Xuren showed central departments and government-owned public institutions spent 9.47 billion yuan on the three items in 2010.

Professor Wang Jingbo at China University of Political Science and Law said most central departments were unwilling to publish detailed expenses on the three items, as they feared such disclosures would be "questioned by the public".

Meanwhile, many Chinese have accused the government of deliberately omitting information regarding its extravagant spending of public funds on receptions, official vehicles and other personal expenses in their fiscal statements.

Professor Wang said to curb official extravagance the central departments should "set a good example" for local governments by publishing "detailed" fiscal information.

China issued a regulation on government transparency in 2008, which requested administrative agencies to disclose certain information that involved citizens' interests.

Since then, information about the State's central budget and the spending of more than 70 central government departments has been made public.

In March, Premier Wen Jiabao urged the country's government agencies to reduce administrative expenses, including cutting spending on overseas business trips, reforming the system for government cars, and cutting the number of meetings and documents.

China's crackdown on various forms of extravagant spending by officials saved the country 5.7 billion yuan last year, according to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China.