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Slashing government cars

Updated: 2013-11-27 06:39
( China Daily)

Very few government cars will be kept and government employees will choose whatever transport means available for official business. This is a stipulation in a document championing frugality that the CPC Central Committee and the State Council jointly released on Monday.

Slashing government cars
Cartoon / Luo Jie

There has never been such a clear-cut specification to cut the money spent on government motor vehicles despite the fact that the waste of public funds and corruption associated with them have long been a focus of public grievances. The top authorities seem determined to solve the problem once and for all.

In 2011, more than 60 percent of the 9.36 billion yuan ($1.53 billion) that all the central government departments spent on public receptions, business trips and procurement and maintenance of vehicles was spent on buying and operating government vehicles. It has proved to be an enormous waste of public money for government departments at all levels to keep a huge fleet of motor vehicles along with a large number of drivers. In addition, corruption is involved in the use and maintenance of them.

Little wonder that there have long been calls for reform in this area. But foot dragging and piecemeal adjustments are characteristic of the efforts local governments have made in the past couple of years.

There has seldom been a resolution from the top authorities that has settled a problem with plain sailing. This one in particular, which involves the interests of many government employees, is likely to face strong headwinds. The resistance from government employees to restrictions on their car use is so strong that some people doubt that the reform will be able to get anywhere in the foreseeable future.

So resistance from local governments and even some central government departments can be expected. It is customary for some lower level governments to circumvent a central government policy in one way or another.

A breakthrough in enforcing the new measures is an easy way for the top authorities to demonstrate their resolve to curb corruption and unhealthy work styles within the Party and government.

If courage is needed to make such a decision, determination to effectively supervise it is essential for the stipulation to work in a down-to-earth manner.

(China Daily 11/27/2013 page8)