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China: 4 Ministries Unveil Budgets for 2010
Source: China Daily
Source Date: Friday, April 02, 2010
Country: China
Created: Apr 06, 2010

Four ministries have made public their annual budgets for 2010 after the central government pledged to tell taxpayers how their money is spent.

The Ministry of Finance (MOF), the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) posted their 2010 annual budgets on their websites on Wednesday, a day after the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) made its budget public on Tuesday.

According to the statistics, the total spending budget of the MOF is 2.45 billion yuan (US$359 million), while the MOHURD has 843 million yuan, the MOST 21.2 billion yuan and the MLR 3.5 billion yuan.

All four budgets highlight the areas of revenue and expenditure, though without detailing items, such as the amount to be allocated for receptions and car purchases.

"This is the first time ministries have made public their budgets and it is usual that it is not exactly what the public expected. We will make more detailed budgets to the public step by step," said Lai Wensheng, director of the MLR's finance department.

"Information on the budget each department makes public will become more detailed," said Liu Shangxi, vice-director of the research institute for fiscal science under the MOF. "We will make it an ongoing process to add more items to the budget. Yet, I cannot say when items like expenditure on buying vehicles will be made public."

Ye Qing, vice-director of the Hubei Bureau of Statistics, concurred, saying: "Although every ministry included expenditure on housing in its budget, there is no further explanation on how the money is to be spent."

According to the MOF, expenditure on housing refers to three kinds of housing subsidies that administrative departments pay to their employees. The four ministries' budgets all give a figure for their total expenditure, without stipulating the percentage of the three housing subsidies and how the money will be spent.

The expenditure on housing by the MOF is 60 million yuan, while that of the MLR is 136 million yuan, the MOHURD is 26 million yuan and the MOST is 24 million yuan.

Ye admitted the expenditure on housing is too high. "With the housing price of Beijing so high, taxpayers won't be happy that they pay for government employees' housing," he said.

Experts still consider it a stride forward in pushing for transparent budgets and promoting public supervision of the government.

Bai Jingming, vice-director of the research institute for fiscal science under the MOF, said this is another step toward enhancing budget transparency from central to local governments.

"It will help the public to know how government money is allocated to solve social problems and to further understand the policies of our country," said Bai, "Besides, it also lets the public supervise the government more directly."
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