Beijing tightens expense reporting

Updated: 2014-03-20 01:56

By AN BAIJIE (China Daily)

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Officials will be held personally liable for public expenses that are not properly justified and documented, under a regulation issued on Tuesday by Beijing's municipal government.

Expenses for official receptions — ordinarily paid by credit card — must be broken out and justified in detail before budget officers will pay the card bill.

Supporting documentation must include not only the cost but also the names of those entertained with taxpayers' money and the reason for each expense.

If supporting documentation is not provided to the budget department, or if an expenditure is found to be improper, the official who authorized the expense will be held personally liable and required to pay out of pocket.

The regulation aims to keep a tight rein on the municipality's spending on official receptions.

Expenses for receptions, government vehicles and officials' overseas trips — also known as the "three public consumptions" — have long been a concern of residents because of the large amounts of money involved and a lack of transparency.

Under the new regulation, municipal agencies must also publicize detailed information about receptions annually.

The rules prohibit officials from using public money to visit entertainment venues or gyms. It's also forbidden to hand out items of value — money, souvenirs or agricultural products, for example — as gifts at receptions.

Holding government meetings at scenic tourist venues is also prohibited, as is sightseeing in the name of business, under the regulation.

Disciplinary and supervisory authorities should investigate misbehavior, and the law must be enforced strictly to prevent waste, the regulation states.

The regulation is in line with the "eight-point" guideline put forward by the Communist Party of China Central Committee in December 2012.

According to the guideline, government officials should get closer to the people by cleaning up undesirable work styles, including extravagance.

A total of 30,420 officials were punished by disciplinary authorities last year for violating the eight-point guideline, according to the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the country's top anti-corruption watchdog.

Chen Wenqing, deputy secretary of the commission, said on Wednesday that the anti-graft body has adjusted its structure to add more than 100 officials to disciplinary posts as part of an effort to enhance supervision.

Zhou Shuzhen, a professor of public administration at Renmin University of China, said the government will continue to improve its transparency because it improves the public's confidence.

Social networks have developed rapidly in recent years, and any fault in government agencies can be spread widely and virtually instantaneously among netizens, Zhou said.

"Only by disclosing concrete information in a timely way will the government strengthen the people's support," she said.