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Lawyer in battle with ministry on gov't stimulus plan
Updated: 2009-02-12 13:58

BEIJING -- A Shanghai lawyer made a formal request with the Ministry of Finance this week to make public the detailed expenditure of the country's  four-trillion-yuan fiscal stimulus package (585.5 billion US dollars).

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Yan Yiming, a lawyer specializing in securities case and owning a law firm named after himself, said he was dissatisfied with the ministry's previous response to his request which said it was improper to have the information released.

The current formal request made this week, an 'administrative reconsideration', must get a reply from the ministry within 15 days, according to the Chinese law.

Yan submitted his previous request to the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner, on January 7. According to Yan, The MOF reply came less than two weeks later but the NDRC remained silent.

The Ministry of Finance said in a written reply that the plan details should be released after it was approved by the National People's Congress, China's top legislature.

"There is no state secret in the stimulus plan, then why not make it public for better supervision?" Yan said.

An NDRC official told Xinhua over the phone that Yan's application was still "under consideration", and the government was studying the issue.

If the two departments both eventually refused his application, Yan said he would sue.

"Supervision on fund use is crucial for the successful implementation of the stimulus plan, since it helps to avoid corruption and inefficiency," he said.

Lawmakers Urged to Press for Transparency

As the annual national legislature meeting is to open in March, Yan hoped legislators could join them to press the government to be more transparent with the massive stimulus package.

Yan is not alone in questioning the hefty package announced by the government last November to prevent the Chinese economy from declining too fast. Many people concerned about fund misuse, corruption and their effect on macroeconomic control.

Beijing-based China Youth Daily carried an editorial last week saying that every Chinese citizen had the right to know how the government would spend the four trillion yuan. "It is constitutional. But we cannot find out exactly where the four trillion yuan will be invested from the information already released by the government," it said.

Under the Regulation on the Disclosure of Government information issued by the State Council, China's Cabinet, government officials must disclose information concerning the interests of Chinese citizens, corporations and other organizations. Issues of national, public and economic security and social stability are exempt.

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