Officials barred from disguising tourism as business trips

By Zhang Yiwei Source:Global Times Published: 2014-1-8 0:33:01

Officials are to be banned from taking vacations disguised as business trips, and will not be allowed to upgrade their travel class unless they hold a certain rank.

The new regulations to standardize travel stipends for central authorities started to be implemented this year and will serve to control business trip expenditure.

The regulation released by the Ministry of Finance on December 31 stipulates that the standard for officials' accommodation and board expenses when travelling on business should be made based on different cities' economic situations. 

It said officials should pay for the costs they overspend by themselves, and pay for board expenses to the local agency they visited.

The previous regulation issued in 2006 stipulated that the accommodation standards vary from 150 yuan ($25) to 600 yuan a day based on the level of the officials.

"The old standard was set too low and it's very common that officials overspend, which increased the financial burden of local governments as they usually need to bear part of the overspend," said Ye Qing, a professor with the Wuhan-based Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, noting that the new regulation can help reduce the burden.

He said that local governments would draft their own standards and report to the ministry, which would examine and finally publicize the standards for different cities.

The new regulation issued a specific list on the classes of vehicles that officials at different levels can choose. For example, only ministry-level officials can fly first class.

It stressed that central authorities' expenditure in business trips should not be transferred to local agencies, noting that banquets and tours unrelated to work and covered by public funds are banned.

Yuan Zhenguo, former head of the National Institute of Education Sciences, was found to have illegally reimbursed the travel expenses of his business trip to Latin American countries and resigned in July, 2013.

A series of regulations targeting expenses of officials going abroad for business, training and conferences have been implemented recently.

A report issued by the National Audit Office in June 2013 discovered that some ministries had overspent by over 10 million yuan on overseas business trips in 2012.  

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