Local govts urged to open books

By Ji Beibei Source:Global Times Published: 2011-9-16 3:11:00

After the majority of central government departments and ministries declared their "three public expenses" – spending on official receptions, vehicles and overseas trips – local governments in China have come under criticism for failing to follow suit.

Only a few provincial and municipal governments, including Beijing, Shanghai and Shaanxi, have publicized their "three public expenses," a report by the Beijing-based Economic Observer said Thursday.

Some analysts believe local governments are reluctant to declare spending because they have spent more on vehicles and receptions than their central counterparts.

Wang Chunying, a professor of administration management at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, said she understands why local governments need to spend more on receptions and vehicles.

"Central State organs, which are under close watch by the State Council, tend to behave more cautiously when spending money," Wang told the Global Times Thursday. "But local and regional governments usually have to receive more higher-ranking officials and entertain them."

In March last year, the Baimiao township government in Sichuan Province was applauded by the public after disclosing their spending online.

However, the township has since encountered great difficulties to carry out its work amid a decline in the number of higher-ranking officials coming to visit it, the Economic Observer reported.

"The present dilemma of Baimiao sets a bad example," said Wu Junliang, a Shenzhen citizen who has pushed governments for years to publish their expenses.

"It mirrors the lack of a guiding policy in our mechanism, which should reward those who disclose their spending and punish those who don't," Wu told the Global Times Thursday. "Some local governments prefer to adopt a wait-and-see attitude, as declaring expenses brings no benefits, only attention and questions from the media and public."

In response to allegations that public money is frequently misspent, some central government departments and ministries began releasing details of their expenditure early July.

By August 9, 95 out of 98 central State organs had declared their "three public expenses," according to the Xinhua News Agency.

China National Radio reported Thursday that Premier Wen Jiabao reiterated the necessity and importance of publicizing government expenses Wednesday in fighting corruption while addressing entrepreneurs attending the 2011 Summer Davos in Dalian.

"The State Council has been pushing forward efforts to publish information on expenses and has made great progress so far as shown by the fact most central State organs have released details," Wu said.

He Chusu contributed to this story

Posted in: China Watch

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