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UPDATED: 14:43, June 25, 2004
Reform on officials' car use in the offing
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Car use privileges for government officials and executives working for State-owned firms in South China's Guangdong Province will soon be transferred into cash subsidies.

Proposals about the changes to the system, which has existed for several decades, are under consideration at government departments throughout the province and relevant experiences in its major cities are being collated and analyzed for a formula for the reforms.

The province will probably lead the "official-use vehicle reform," as it is being called,on a nationwide basis, as it did successfully in the bid to introduce transparency into government information sources.

According to statistics, several millions of official cars are in service throughout China, and their upkeep and ongoing expensesconsume more than 100 billion yuan (US$12 billion) annually.

In Guangdong,the number of official cars is estimated at 450,000. They will either be auctioned or sold to individuals, including officials who would like a used car of their own.

However, government-owned vehicles in areas such as law enforcement used by police and court officials will not undergo the reform.

A subsidy allocation formula is expected to first be introduced at township and grassroots level and State-owned companies in cities in the Pearl River Delta later this year,an official from the General Office of the Guangdong provincial government said Wednesday.

Under the provisions, township governments will not be allowed to purchase any new work-related cars while their present cars will be auctioned off or sold this year.

But the government officials will be offered a certain amount of subsidy for official transport expenses,an unnamed official told China Daily.

The official would not disclose the amount of the subsidies."Guangdong will consider other similar standards which have come into effect in other regions in the country," he said.

The official predicted the new system would boost car sales in the prosperous province where about 10 per cent of families have purchased their own cars and also increase business in the local taxi sector.

Taxi companies are also planning to buy new cars in anticipation of an increase in business.

The reform of the official car system aims to reduce transport expenses and prevent corruption.

Transport expenses in some government departments and units in Guangdong in past years have been considerable because official cars were being used for private purposes, the official said.

"When details have been sorted out and the time is right, the new system will cover county and prefectural level government and units in the entire province," the official said.

The cities of Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Dongguan and Foshanare to take the lead in introducing the new subsidies system in Guangdong which borders the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.

Similar subsidy-based reforms have already been introduced in the cities of Chengdu of Sichuan Province, Qingdao of Shandong Province and Yiwu of Zhejiang Province and Chongqing Municipality.

In Qingyang District of Chengdu, a section-chief-level official is subsidized to the tune of 1,100 yuan (US$133) monthly after the district government introduced its new subsidy system earlier this year.

Other officials are being provided with between 400 yuan (US$48) and 600 yuan (US$73) every month.

A total of 33 official cars worth more than 730,000 yuan (US$88,300) have already been auctioned in the district.

After the new system was introduced, no government officials were allowed to claim travel expenses.

And the Chengdu city government is considering refusing to buy official-use cars for vice-mayors and lesser officials in the city inside five years.

Source: China Daily

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