Thursday, January 15, 2009

Belt Tightening with Chinese Characteristics

In these tough economic times, Queen Elizabeth II has asked her family members to be frugal and not fritter away public coffers on outlandish displays of wealth.

And Chinese President Hu Jintao has echoed the same mandate to officials of all levels.

"Under the current situation, maintaining [the practice of] hard work and frugality makes practical sense," he said in a keynote speech at a plenary session of the Communist Party of China's (CPC) top anti-corruption body earlier this week.

"Officials must see the facts and tell the truth. They must do practical work and produce actual results."

That's a subtle sign for officials to stop the wining and dining, jetsetting around the world, driving expensive cars, embezzling money, gambling public coffers and actually doing some work -- which in this case means serving the people.

He said "the interests of the people" should be the officials' top priority which seems quite obvious, but there's no harm done in emphasizing it again.

And already some provincial and municipal governments have complied by cutting their operational costs this year.

A newspaper reports the Guangdong provincial government has promised a "zero increase" in the purchase of cars, conferences, and receptions, as well as officials' overseas inspection tours.

However, "zero increase" can be interpreted as no increase -- spending the same budget amount as last year.

So Guangdong residents may see new government cars on the roads -- just not more.

How is that being frugal?

No comments: