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Details, details, details needed from gov't agencies | Updated: 2013-07-22 14:54

Nearly 70 central government agencies published their 2012 expenditures as of Thursday, and while that's a great first step, more detailed reports are needed, says an editorial in Beijing News (excerpts below).

According to the budget reports, expenditures by central government agencies on overseas travel, official receptions and government car purchases totaled 7.425 billion yuan ($1.2 billion) in 2012, more than 500 million yuan below budget.

That's a good trend. But reports from some ministries look strange. The China Metrological Administration said it spent 2.86 million yuan on 22 new cars in 2012 for a total of 4,614 autos, but in its report last year it had only 3,380 cars by the end of 2011. The numbers do not add up.

The Ministry of Finance claimed it spent only 1.01 million yuan on four cars in 2012, but could not explain why the total number of its cars increased from 368 to 412 during the year.

The Ministry of Transport is using a simple style. In its report on business entertainment, there is only one sentence: "9.39 million yuan was spent on business entertainment, mainly for maintaining relations with other agencies". That is pretty vague.

The public and media are in a collective disbelief of these reports. Without further details, such reports can only arouse more doubts. Worse, they might point to misuse of public funds, even corruption.

A more thorough system is needed to make these ministries more responsible for their reports. Only with detailed explanations will taxpayers know where their money is going, which is key to winning back their trust in agencies.

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