China bans new state buildings to save money

Government orders five-year halt to construction of official buildings after public anger over costly offices.

    A government building in poverty-stricken Anhui province covers an area larger than the US Pentagon [AP]
    A government building in poverty-stricken Anhui province covers an area larger than the US Pentagon [AP]

    China's leaders have banned the construction of government buildings for five years as part of a campaign that aims to show the ruling Communist Party is cracking down on corruption and not wasting public money.

    The general offices of the Communist Party's central committee and the State Council - China's cabinet - jointly issued the directive on Tuesday, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

    Across China, grand government buildings with oversized offices and fancy lighting are often among the most impressive buildings in their towns, often drawing disapproval from the public.

    President Xi Jinping has spearheaded a campaign to cut through pomp, formality and waste among senior officials that has alienated many ordinary citizens.

    Xinhua reported that the directive orders an "across-the-board halt" to construction of official buildings, and "glitzy" structures built as training centres, hotels or government motels.

    Seaside resorts

    Some government agencies have built such buildings in seaside resorts and other scenic spots as a perk for their officials and employees who can stay for free or at deeply discounted prices. They sometimes open to the public as profit-making ventures.

    Some office buildings use up a lot of money...which all comes from government funds, so it's a kind of corruption.

    Liu Shanying, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

    "Some office buildings use up a lot of money, there are operating costs and a lot of money is spent on people eating and drinking which all comes from government funds, so it's a kind of corruption," said Liu Shanying, a politics researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

    The five-year construction ban is a significant move to fight corruption, he said.

    The ruling also orders that officials with more than one post should only have one office while the offices of those who have retired or taken leave should be returned in time.

    The directive calls on party and government bodies to be thrifty and ensure that government spending goes towards developing the economy and improving public welfare.

    However, officials will still be able to spend money on restoring government offices, Xinhua said.

    There have been restrictions on constructing new government buildings in the past, but some departments and localities have built government office compounds in violation of regulations.

    SOURCE: AP


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