Chinese government has reduced the budget for officials heading overseas on work, holding receptions for dignitaries in the country and using allotted vehicles for authorised tasks in its latest effort to strengthen the ongoing frugality campaign.
In China, “overseas trips, vehicles and receptions” are known as the “three public consumptions” and have long been three ways for officials to splurge sanctioned budgets.
The purse strings for the three heads, however, are being tightened for 2017 as the Communist Party of China and President Xi Jinping prepares for the five-yearly party Congress later this year.
“China has long been bedeviled by officials using their expenses accounts to travel in the name of official visits, use work vehicles on personal errands, and enjoy luxurious receptions and accommodation,” the state-controlled China Daily newspaper said in a report.
Of course, the sanctioned budget is still huge despite the cut.
“The Central government departments will spend a maximum of 6.15 billion yuan ($ 891 million) on the “three public consumptions” in 2017, down 31 million yuan from 2016,” the state media reported quoting the finance ministry.
“Expenses on overseas visits will reach no more than 1.88 billion yuan, while 3.5 billion yuan was budgeted for the purchase and maintenance of government vehicles and 761 million yuan for official receptions,” the newspaper reported.
The ministry said the cut is expected to help streamline expenditure and channelise the budget for important overseas tours, reception of foreign guests and replacing old, polluting government vehicles with newer ones with strict emission controls.
The anti-corruption and frugality campaign has been Xi’s signature crusade since early 2013, soon after he took over as CPC general secretary.
The anti-graft rules included a ban on “red-carpet receptions for officials and use of public vehicles for private affairs, reduced meetings, avoided traffic disturbances such as road closures, and ordered austerity in official meals, travel and housing.”
The CPC’s anti-graft agency said late last year that nearly 200,000 party and government staff had been punished for violating frugality rules in the past four years, many who had held senior positions.
“They were involved in more than 146,400 cases, about one-quarter of which involved the use of public vehicles and dining out on public funds,” the China Daily report said.