China vows more transparency
Mon, Mar 02, 2009

BEIJING, CHINA - BEIJING has promised to be more open about how it spends 4 trillion yuan (US$907 billion) of public money aimed at boosting the economy during the global financial crisis, the official Xinhua agency said late on Sunday.

The export-reliant nation needs to counter the collapse in its overseas markets, but with corruption pervasive at home there has been widespread concern that some of the cash might be diverted to line officials' pockets.

The deputy head of China's top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, said it would release spending details on its website and accept questions from the public about where the money was going.

'It is reasonable that people show great concern over the expenditures of the four trillion yuan stimulus package, and related information shall be fully open to the public", Vice Minister Mu Hong told the official Xinhua news agency.

He gave out a phone number and email address for submitting requests for information, although no one answered the line early on Monday morning.

China's ruling Communist Party discloses only the barest outline of its spending plans to a submissive parliament every year, but activists are now calling for it to live up to vows of transparency and accountability.

The government also ordered a crackdown on trips abroad for cadres and state employees on Sunday, something it does periodically, but it marked another sign of Beijing's concern about corruption as pockets of unrest break out across the country in the face of slowing economic growth.

China has seen its exports drop after recession struck the United States and Europe, dragging growth down from 13 per cent in 2007 to 9 per cent in 2008.

Beijing, concerned that a rebound in unemployment could feed into protests or violence, set an official target of 8 per cent growth this year. Many economists say it will be tough to achieve. -- REUTERS

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