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Public funds flushed away | Updated: 2013-04-02 21:57

About 160 five-star public toilets designed like the Forbidden City or the Bird's Nest have been built since 2008 at a total cost of 50 million yuan ($8 million) in Linfen, Shanxi province. It is a typically profligate use of taxpayers' money and another instance of ignored public interests, says an article in Guangzhou Daily. Excerpts:

The public toilets of any city should have certain basics such as reasonable distribution and cleanliness. Their managerial fee should also be in accordance with the city's economic and social development level.

However, the luxurious public toilets in Linfen — which have an annual management fee of 3 million yuan — are way beyond local needs, and the excessive construction and management expense has severely deviated from the local people's requirements.

The local government's ability to invest so much money in public toilets shows that it has ample finances. However, the fact that it plans to reduce Linfen's impoverished population by 100,000 by 2015, and is expecting a large sum of poverty alleviation funds upon the completion of this plan, seems to indicate that something is amiss. Through the allocation of funds, it is not hard to tell what the local officials care about most.

Even if it is urgent to build a project that will boost the city's image, its planning and design as well as funding are supposed to match the city's overall economic level. Besides, any insightful investors would retreat in fear that their money would end up for naught given such extravagant spending.

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