China / Government

Govt report on spending amid transparency calls

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-07-19 20:19

BEIJING - The Chinese central government departments on Thursday unveiled how public money was spent on receptions, vehicles and overseas trips by officials, as more people press for more detailed reports to curb corruption and official extravagance.

For the second time in history, 98 central government departments and public institutions have publicized their expenditures for public consumptions on their websites.

According to the figures released, central government departments spent 9.36 billion yuan (1.48 billion U.S. dollars) on receptions, vehicles and overseas trips, also known as "the three public consumptions," last year, using fiscal funds allocated by the central authorities.

In breakdown, about 2 billion yuan was spent on overseas trips, 5.9 billion yuan on purchase and maintenance of vehicles, and about 1.5 billion yuan on public receptions.

The central authorities plans 7.98 billion yuan in budget for central government departments and public institutions to spend on overseas trips, vehicles and receptions this year.

The 1.38-billion-yuan reduction in budgetary spending this year for public consumptions is due to the exclusion of such expenditure by the armed police, according to the Ministry of Finance (MOF).

"Compared with last year's brief reports, the statements on public consumptions by central government departments were more detailed this year, marking another step forward in improving transparency," said Liu Jianwen, a law professor at Peking University.

Liu viewed the publicity of government spending on overseas trips, vehicles and receptions as a breakthrough in the country's fiscal system.

"It is also a major measure to reform the political system," he said.

Many central government departments included more items on revenues and expenditures in their reports this year, such as the number of people traveling overseas and newly purchased vehicles.

Some government departments, however, gave only obscure explanations for their expenditures, with some relevant figures completely omitted, such as the number of staff who took overseas trips.

Critics say actual government spending on public consumptions is larger as many government departments and public institutions reimbursed a large part of such expenditures, using funds collected from revenues other than fiscal appropriation.

"Putting everything in the sunshine is the best way to fight corruption," Liu said, adding the reports on public consumptions should be much more detailed to prevent the optional implementation of budgets and check the power of the government.

Administrative costs, which cover wages, allowance and bonus, office and travelling expenses, rose 1.42 percent year on year to 89.97 billion yuan among central government departments and public institutions last year.

"Even though the government has made progress in publicizing information, we still fail to live up to the public's expectation, " said Bai Jingming, deputy director of the Research Institute for Fiscal Science with the MOF.

"We need time to build an improved and transparent budgetary system," Bai said.

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