Improve transparency by tackling root causes that prevent it

Updated: 2014-07-03 11:17

By Li Yang (

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Government financial transparency cannot be realized in China before the causes and motives to cover up true data are resolved, according to an article of China Business News. Excerpts:

Beijing-based Tsinghua University issued a research report recently on financial transparency of city governments in China.

The research on 289 city governments found that only 14 governments released their debt data, and 150 governments unveiled incomplete information on spending on reception dinners, cars and business trips.

According to the research, the governments in Central and west China are much less candid and transparent in their finance, debt and spending data than the governments in better-off East China.

Although the central government has pressed the local governments to improve their financial transparency again and again in recent years, local authorities are still reluctant to do so for several self-evident reasons.

Some officials obtain illegal profits from government procurements, biddings and spending. And local governments raise funds through various means to boost investment-driven growth. They are confident the central government will help them repay the debt, which is already beyond the capacity of local governments in some places. So they do not want to disclose their debt conditions. As some local officials said, they have countless money to spend, and countless debt to repay.

The making and execution of government budgets in China are not effectively supervised. And there is no law in China stipulating financial transparency as a legal and compulsory duty of the governments.

Before these problems are tackled, government financial transparency will remain unrealistic in China.