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Govt car purchases drive ire on Internet
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08:42, July 03, 2009

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Allegations that a Chongqing district government spent 60 million yuan ($8.7 million) on cars over three years has provoked outrage online.

The budget of the unnamed district government was recently leaked on the Internet.

The data shows that 16.9 million yuan was spent on cars and maintenance in 2006, 20.9 million yuan in 2007 and 22.8 million yuan in 2008.

The budget said it would cut spending on vehicle purchases and maintenance, official's reception cost, utility and gas bills and overseas trips by 4.7 million yuan in 2009.

Netizens said the plan to reduce spending was "too little, too late".

"This is just the tip of the iceberg. The real figure might be even bigger," said a Netizen who emphasized that it was just one of the municipalities' 19 districts.

A spokesman for Chongqing's finance bureau surnamed Wang told China Daily that the city's Party discipline authority in Chongqing is conducting an audit in response to Beijing's call to spend less and be more prudent.

The directive from February this year requires local governments to trim 15 percent off spending on vehicle purchases and upkeep.

An unnamed senior official from the city's Party discipline authority said authenticity of the "leaked" information was yet to be verified, but that the public might have been misled by the chart, which provides incomplete information.

"Twenty million yuan sounds big if were spent by a single district people's government. It might actually be an aggregate number of spending by all government bodies and agencies in the district," he said.

He added that the district was unnamed and its geographic size was unspecified, so it did not give a true account of the spending. More than 32 million people in the municipality generated 412 billion yuan of GDP in 2007.

China National Radio recently reported that the Chinese government spent 80 billion yuan to buy vehicles last year.

"Thoughts of tax evasion come to my mind, just looking at the figure," said one Netizen from Henan province in an online forum.

Meanwhile, the Hangzhou city government in Zhejiang province made officials give up their cars in an effort to encourage car sharing. Officials were compensated with a travel allowance between 300 and 2,600 yuan per month.

Source: China Daily

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