Anti-graft push gives officials time for family

Updated: 2014-04-18 23:53

By An Baijie (China Daily)

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Chinese government officials are spending more time with their families thanks to an ongoing anti-graft campaign, said an official from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Officials spent an average of 30 minutes more at home every day in the last year than in 2012, Zhang Zhongliang, director of the bureau’s finance department, said during a lecture last week at Communication University of China.

Bureau statistics showed that county-level officials had to attend an average of 18 social banquets every week in 2012, but that number dropped by at least one-third last year, Zhang said.

As a result, the officials had more time to eat at home rather than in restaurants, he said.

"In the past, some officials had to attend several banquets simultaneously, eating for a while at one table and then toasting at another," Zhang said.

The change in officials’ schedules was caused by anti-graft measures including the "eight-point" rules spelled out by the authorities, which ban extravagant banquets at public expense, Zhang said.

In December 2012, the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee put forward the rules requiring officials to clean up undesirable work styles, including extravagance, hedonism and excessive bureaucracy.

Disciplinary authorities punished 30,420 officials last year for violating the eight-point rules, according to the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, China’s top anti-graft agency.

The rules also require officials to improve their efficiency.

"In 2012, I spent about 35 hours, or four-and-a-half days, attending meetings and processing official documents every week. That time dropped to 22 hours last year," Zhang said.

Zheng Dewei, an official from Chaohe, Shandong province, said he is spending more time with family members rather than attending numerous banquets.

"The public has been criticizing the large government expenditure on receptions. Such expenses can finally be cut back," he said.

The CPC discipline inspection commission said in November that its expenses for receptions from January to August dropped by 52.07 percent from the same period in 2012.

Zhang, the statistics official, said the restaurant industry has been affected by the anti-graft rules, and growth has slowed.

"Some researchers estimated that the anti-graft rules lowered GDP growth by 0.6 to 1.5 percent last year," he said, adding that is an unavoidable price to pay for better governance.

Zhou Shuzhen, a professor of clean-governance research at Renmin University of China, said that the frugality drive will continue with the public keeping a closer eye on government expenditures.

"Officials are more likely to receive serious punishment for violating the frugality rules under the current anti-graft campaign," she said.

On Monday, the CPC commission publicized the names of 331 officials guilty of misbehavior, including hosting extravagant banquets, misuse of government vehicles and playing mahjong during work hours.