China on Tuesday banned the construction of new government buildings and issued strict guidelines for renovating existing ones for the next five years in a bid to cut down government expenditure, an official circular said.
The circular, quoted by state media, gave clear indications that decision was made to clean up the image of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and stem rising public resentment against wide-spread corruption within it.
Cleaning up the government has been new President Xi Jinping’s pet project. A number of high-profile corruption cases, however, have dented the Party’s image in recent months.
The new directive could be interpreted as a strong message right from the top.
“Banning the building of new government buildings is important for building a clean government and also a requirement for boosting CPC-people ties and maintaining the image of the CPC and the government,” the circular issued jointly by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council or the Cabinet.
The ban also covers expensive structures built as training centers or hotels.
“According to the directive, the construction, purchase, restoration or expansion of office compounds that is done in the guise of building repair or urban planning is strictly forbidden,” state media reported.
The new directive allows restoration projects for office buildings with “dated facilities” but but added that such projects should be “exclusively aimed at erasing safety risks and restoring office functions.”
The renovation of existing government buildings and the construction of new buildings should be made public, the directive said.
According to the directive, the construction, purchase, restoration or expansion of office compounds that is done in the guise of building repair or urban planning is strictly forbidden.
The directive also bans CPC and government organizations from receiving any form of construction sponsorship or donations, as well as collaborating with enterprises, in developing construction projects.
The government directed investment departments to scrutinise applications and “perfect” approval procedures.
"Financial departments should tighten the management of public finance budgets by refraining from allotting funds for building projects without going through relevant approval procedures,” the rules said.
The directive called on all CPC and government bodies to be frugal and ensure that government funds and resources be spent on developing the economy and boosting the public's well-being, the state-run Xinhua news agency report said.