Govt grilled over spending increases

The release of government spending details for various departments has not eased the concerns of the public, who are urging more figures to be disclosed and doubt the legitimacy of some budget increases.

A total of 94 central government departments published their spending in 2010, including vehicle spending, receptions and overseas travel. Fifty-one departments raised their budgets for official overseas trips for 2011, the Economic Information Daily reported Thursday.

At the beginning of July, the Ministry of Finance published the central government budget for 2011. Spending on official receptions, vehicles and overseas trips hit 9.42 billion yuan ($1.47 billion) while the figure for overseas trips came in at 1.99 billion yuan, the Beijing News reported.

That is a 220 million yuan increase from last year, which stood at 1.77 billion yuan.

The Ministry of Finance announced its budget of 47.52 million yuan is a 6 million yuan increase from last year.

The ministry said the increase is justified as China holds high-level meetings with the US and Britain this year, the Guangzhou Daily reported.

Meanwhile, the National Population and Family Planning Commission published on its website on July 18 that it spent 4.7 million yuan on overseas trips in 2010, about half of its total spending, and for 2011, the commission will still spend 4.94 million yuan on overseas trips. Some in the media questioned the need for the commission to take overseas trips.

Zhang Xuying, with the China Population and Development Research Center, defended the increased spending. “Promoting the quality of the population has been a major job of the commission since 2009, and the commission will take part in many international meetings,” Zhang told the Global Times.

“Merely releasing total figures is far from enough. There should be a detailed breakdown such as the purposes of these overseas trips, destinations and evaluations on the outcomes,” Wang Zhenyu, a researcher at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times Thursday. “These are essential elements for the public to figure out whether such an increase is necessary and reasonable.”

To secure the reasonable use of taxpayers’ money, the government agencies need to release more details, punish those who violate regulations on overseas trips and secure the public’s right to supervise government departments, he said.

Global Times

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