City govt spending becomes transparent

Updated: 2011-12-26 08:04

By Zhao Yinan (China Daily)

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Legislation in process

In a city with 3 million residents, and an economy still struggling to emerge from a post-mining downturn, reform that could have been impossible even in coastal cities was carried out against all odds.

The man who dominated the finance reform in Jiaozuo, Shen Xiangchen, is an early bird. He goes to the office at 6:30 am, and his holidays are almost indistinguishable from work.

Speaking of the future, Shen said he doesn't think the reform will stop after his retirement.

The most urgent support at the moment, he said, is legal protection.

Since he started to draw up a government debt schedule in 2004, Jiaozuo's effort to get "a full picture of the government accounts" has taken place outside a legal framework.

Local governments' debt in China officially topped 10.7 trillion yuan in June, according to the country's top auditing body, even though the Budget Law forbids local governments to raise loans.

"Since local government loans have become a public secret, we have to do our best to make (the situation) as transparent as possible, so as to control the risks," Shen said.

Shen's expectations are likely to be met during the next bimonthly session of the country's top lawmakers, which begins on Monday.

A previous announcement from the National People's Congress Standing Committee said a draft amendment to the Budget Law is to be reviewed at the meeting.

The long-awaited revision may usher in an opportunity to ensure that the isolated reform program in Jiaozuo becomes a model for others.

Transparency could be one of the best anti-corruption medicines, but a reform powered by an official's vision and determination can hardly last forever, said Ren Lihong, director of the budget-making department of the Jiaozuo finance bureau.

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