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City more prosperous, but life harder: experts

By Zhang Zihan (Global Times)

09:10, October 29, 2012

Beijing lags behind the rest of the nation in government size, according to a new survey, although it ranks No 1 in economic welfare and public services.

The survey, The 2012 Chinese Provincial Government Efficiency Study, was released by the School of Management at Beijing Normal University (BNU) Saturday. It evaluated altogether 31 provincial and municipal governments in China.

The study was based on statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics, and focused on four main standards: public service, public facilities, size of government and economic welfare, a measure of prosperity.

Tang Renwu, director of the study and dean of the management school at BNU, said the municipal government has too many employees, which has led to a drop in its efficiency.

"Beijing ranked 27 among all 31 local governments in government size because most of the central official bodies are in Beijing," said Tang.

"A basic principle of a market economy is that smaller government works faster and helps build a better economy, so it's easy to understand why Beijing scored so low," he said.

Statistics from Beijing Municipal Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security show that Beijing had over 143,000 civil servants in 2011.

Beijing has a high number of armed police officers, which cost a lot of money, Tang noted.

"The government puts maintaining stability at a priority, and the high numbers of armed police need a large percentage of the local government's revenue," said Tang.

While the economic welfare of Beijing residents ranks No 1, not everyone feels that way.

Ma Hongyu, a 22-year-old waiter, earns 2,500 yuan ($400) per month, one-fifth of which he spends on a small underground room.

"My place is only five meters square, and I hope I can live in a larger place," said Ma.

"But it's difficult with what I earn. I wish I could get a government subsidy," said Ma,

Tang Tianwei, who also participated in the study, said increased economic welfare did not reflect that there had been an overall decrease in living conditions for city residents.

"The general increase in economic welfare was pushed by the elevation of personal yearly income and GDP per capita growth," said Tang Tianwei, "but living conditions are actually worsening due to the big increase in residents."

"The quality of public facilities is also worsening, as the July 21 rainstorm showed when many of them couldn't stand up to the test of an emergency. I'm afraid this situation won't change in the next few years. It may even worsen," he noted.

The Beijing population was 20.18 million at the end of 2011, according to the Beijing News.

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