January 4, 2012 (TSR) Companies in China that specialize in catering for official functions are feeling the pinch from the “no frills” style adopted by the country’s new leadership, which must feel to them like punitive austerity measures, reported by Want China Times.
A mere 2,000 yuan (US$320) was spent on the recent opening ceremony of the Beijing-Guangzhou high-speed railway, one of the country’s most important infrastructure projects to come online in 2012.
With new leader Xi Jinping ordering an end to the ostentatious arrangements enjoyed by officials, there are no more flowers or stage lighting effects seen at conferences; no more high-end liquor decorating the tables.
Wang Rulin, the new party secretary of Jilin province, said on Dec. 28 that all officials at every level should ban the spending of public funds on eating, drinking, recreation, catering and giving gifts, especially as the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival are approaching. “Whoever violates this will pay the price,” Wang warned. The Zhejiang provincial committee also sent notifications to all departments to forbid similar indulgences.
The end of the year is when unspent state budgets for the year are normally emptied, which has previously ushered in a flood of lavish spending. Kweichow Moutai, the country’s premium liquor brand and a staple at government functions, has seen its stock price drop by 5.55%. In a single trading day, 125 million yuan (US$20 million) disappeared.
To decorate a conference venue with flower displays usually costs around 30,000 yuan (US$4,800) but the pots are now all empty and Guangzhou, China’s main flower production area, has taken a serious hit. The sales volume of flower businesses across China is expected to fall by 90%. Beijing’s flower shops have allegedly been orderless since the government decided that a simple and earnest approach is what the public wants to see.