China never underestimates local government debt: NAO

08:59, July 12, 2011      

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China's National Audit Office (NAO) has never "underestimated or omitted the country's local government debt burden," a NAO spokesman said on Monday, reiterating its debt figures were correct and reliable.

The nation deployed 41,000 auditors to review all of the 373,805 local government projects carefully, the spokesman said on the condition of anonymity, adding that some reports that the NAO deliberately underestimated the debt load of local governments are groundless.

The state auditor said last month the country had 6,576 local government financing vehicles, while the central bank and the banking regulatory commission estimated that the figure would be more than 10,000 and 9,000, respectively.

The three agencies used different definitions and accounting methods in the audit, leading to the discrepancies in the figures, the spokesman said.

Local authorities have run up debts of 10.7 trillion yuan (1.65 trillion U.S. dollars), equivalent to about 30 percent of the country's gross domestic product, according to data provided by the NAO.

The country has no systematic debt risks although some regions and industries were highly indebted, the spokesman added.

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