A government campaign to crack down on the improper purchase and use of public vehicles has been expanded from government departments to government-run institutions, with the Ministry of Finance ordering all these institutions nationwide to file an inventory of all their vehicles by October 31, including reports on the purchasing prices of the vehicles and what they are used for.
The move was designed to "improve standards relating to the proper use of official vehicles and lower the expenses of public institutions," said the ministry announcement posted Monday on its website.
It was the first time that the spending on vehicles by public institutions was put under tighter scrutiny, following a campaign launched by the central government last year that put the vehicle use of government departments under the spotlight.
Although not all the public institutions are completely financed by the State, their official vehicle purchases are funded by the government.
Amid a public outcry over excessive public expenditure, the central government passed a series of regulations last year and established a special work group to oversee the implementation of stricter vehicle use policies.
Ye Qing, deputy director of the Hubei Provincial Bureau of Statistics, told the Global Times this is a significant step by the government toward curbing its spending.
However, many people have expressed doubts online over whether the institutions will provide genuine information about car purchases.
Ye said that "self-checking" was only the first step and he believed random inspections would follow soon, which may force institutions to provide accurate figures.
Xu Xianglin, deputy director at the School of Government at Peking University, echoed Ye's point.
"Letting the institutions check their own spending is the most scientific way," he told the Global Times. "The government has stepped forward and the public should be more patient."
The notice regarding the self-inspections was sent out to public institutions nationwide on August 5, according to the ministry.
However, the Global Times have called seven public institutions directly under the State Council, including the China Meteorological Administration and China Academy of Sciences. None said they had started yet.
In November last year, a new rule on vehicle purchasing regulated that Party and government departments should spend less than 180,000 yuan ($28,304) on a regular official vehicle. But this limit did not apply to high-ranking officials, Xinhua reported.
The government this June released the "three public expenses" of government departments, including receptions, vehicles and overseas trips, and 5.9 billion yuan was spent on vehicles in 2011. In addition, 199,660 vehicles were found to have been irregularly used or purchased and 170 officials were punished.