Province's tax authorities sail into storm

Updated: 2011-09-26 07:01

By Wu Yiyao (China Daily)

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HANGZHOU - Tax authorities in Zhejiang province have responded to an outcry over their buying a yacht for 2.71 million yuan ($424,000) by saying it will be used to collect taxes.

Pictures of the yacht Guorui published widely on the Internet raised questions about whether it had been bought for entertainment purposes.

In one Internet posting there is a picture of the yacht and a picture of a banner saying that tax officials in Zhejiang had held a ceremony when the yacht made its maiden voyage.

"It's just ridiculous, and a slap in the face of taxpayers if this yacht was bought simply to make some officials happy," said one critic on the Internet, Wang Changfu.

"I was outraged when I saw the pictures."

The yacht was bought to replace a vessel previously used to help collect taxes in Chun'an county, said Jin Wei, spokesman of Zhejiang State Administration of Taxation.

Many taxpayers live and work on about 1,000 islands of Chun'an county, and a yacht will help the work of taxation collecting, Jin said.

The vessel Chun'an tax authorities had used from 2000 to 2009 was too old and beyond use, he said.

The yacht will become a mobile venue for tax collectors and taxpayers, he said, the lower deck comprising offices and the upper deck including a waiting lounge.

When Guorui was bought, everything had been done strictly according to regulations, he said.

However, no open resources of the official website of Chuan'an county's tax authorities appear to have any reference to the vessels.

"It is hard to understand why a provincial-level tax authority has to hold a ceremony to launch a county-level authority's yacht and why the old boat cannot be replaced by a new, less expensive boat rather than a fancy yacht?" said Dong Yuanling, a Chun'an resident.

"After all, Chun'an is not rich, and officials need to watch what they are spending, especially when it is public money."

The per capita GDP of Chun'an last year was 22,858 yuan, the lowest of 13 districts and counties in Hangzhou, according to the county's website.

Guorui will go into service after October 1, the Zhejiang State Administration of Taxation said.

Shen Chen contributed to this story.

China Daily

(China Daily 09/26/2011 page4)