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Govt to furnish detailed budgets

Updated: 2011-03-10 07:47

By Wang Jingqiong (China Daily)

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Beijing - China's top political advisory body has taken the lead in disclosing accounts of its spending amid growing calls from lawmakers and political advisers for detailed information about the country's expenditures.

The General Office of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) announced on Monday that its 2010 annual session cost 59 million yuan ($9 million).

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It was the first time such spending figures have been released to the public. The disclosure came after a journalist raised a question about spending to Zhao Qizheng, spokesman of the CPPCC National Committee, on Wednesday last week at a press conference.

Zhao answered that he could not immediately put a figure on government expenditures.

"Please allow me to ask my colleagues and send you an email or text message afterwards," he said.

The Beijing-based China Youth Daily reported that the journalist received a response on Monday.

The 59-million-yuan figure mainly accounted for money spent on the 2,237 CPPCC national committee members, workers at the session and hotel stays that took place during the 10-day event, according to the news bureau of the CPPCC National Committee.

"It's news to me that the cost was made public," Zhao Shuyue, a CPPCC National Committee member said. "But it doesn't hurt to make it transparent. The public has the right to know how much money was spent and what it was spent on."

"It's a good way of proving we don't waste money and that we welcome public scrutiny," he said.

"The Chinese public not only needs to know the government's budget plans, but more importantly, it needs to know how much the government actually spends, as well as what things and purposes that money is put toward," said Chen Shu, a deputy to the ongoing session of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature.

Premier Wen Jiabao said on Saturday that China will speed up its attempts to make the budgetary plans public. Many NPC deputies saw his remarks as indicating the government's determination to become more transparent.

This year, the central government fiscal report to the NPC listed 18 spending categories and a total central government expenditure that amounted to 4.83 trillion yuan for 2010.

Still, deputies said the report did not contain enough details.

"It only has general figures," said Chen Shu. "The expenditures in the smallest category come to tens of billions of yuan. We still don't know the details of how the central government used the money."

In 2010, more than 70 central government departments posted their budgets to the Internet. That same year, 12 provincial-level regions disclosed spending statements to the public, doing so either once a month or once a quarter.

Dai Bohua, spokesman of the Ministry of Finance, said on Tuesday that the ministry will publish the main parts of the government's 2011 central budget and balance sheet, which will contain more details than were released in 2010.

Budget information for all central government departments will also be published. Among the records made public for the first time will be budgets accounting for officials' overseas travel, the purchase and repair of government vehicles, the accommodation of officials and administrative expenditures.

"I think by making the budget public the government will win more trust from the people," said Jiang Hong, another CPPCC National Committee member.

"Besides aiming for greater transparency, I hope they will publish balance sheets that are easier for the people to understand."

Yu Ran and Xinhua contributed to this story.


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