April 18, 2014 (TSR-Xinhua) – China‘s central government will spend less on overseas visits, vehicles and receptions, popularly known as the “three public consumptions,” this year amid the country’s frugality campaign, said the Ministry of Finance (MOF) on Friday.
The central government will use 7.151 billion yuan (about 1.15 billion U.S. dollars) on such items in 2014, slightly down from last year’s actual spending of 7.154 billion yuan, the ministry said.
Compared to that of last year, the budget went down by 818 million yuan, or 10.3 percent, said the MOF.
According to the 2014 budget, the central government will spend 161 million yuan less on official receptions, and 126 million yuan less on purchase and maintenance of government vehicles.
Spending on overseas visits will increase by 284 million yuan from what was actually spent on this area in 2013.
This year’s budget includes 1.976 billion yuan for traveling overseas, 4.127 billion yuan for the purchase and maintenance of government vehicles and 1.048 billion yuan for official receptions, according to the MOF.
For 2013, the central government spent 815 million yuan, or 10.2 percent, less than its original budget on the “three public consumptions.”
A senior official of the MOF’s budget department attributed the cut-backs mainly to the implementation by central government departments of austerity rules put forward by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
In December 2012, the newly elected CPC Central Committee issued the “eight-point rules,” requiring government officials to strictly practice frugality and clean up undesirable work styles, including formalism and extravagance.
Taking overseas visits as an example, officials from government departments, institutions and state-owned enterprises who go away have to specify the number of trips, schedules and allowances in detail, according to new central government regulations.
In 2013, all central government departments cut their “general spending” by 5 percent, according to the official.
MOF will strictly control the scale of the “three public consumptions” budget to make sure the central government’s spending on the items keep declining, the official added.
Most provincial-level governments have also slashed their budgets on official vehicles, banquets and overseas trips amid the frugality campaign.
Government spending in these areas has long been a hotly-debated issue among the public because of reports about misuse of public money.
The central government first published the figures of spending on the three items in 2011 and has been increasing transparency ever since.
Zhang Bin, researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, pointed to the publication of more detailed spending on government vehicles as an example of the enhanced transparency.
Previously, the MOF published figures on official vehicles’ purchase and maintenance spending as a whole. This year, spending on purchase and maintenance were published separately.
Zhang hailed the new practice as an indication of greater budget transparency, saying this would help the public better monitor government spending on vehicles.