China eyes transparency in budget law revision

From: Xinhua Updated: 2014-04-22 09:51
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BEIJING, April 21 (Xinhua) -- A draft revision to China's budget law, tabled for the third reading at a bimonthly session of China's top legislature on Monday, aims to forge a fully regulated and transparent budget system by expanding public access.

The 94-page draft revision, submitted to the eighth session of the 12th National People's Congress Standing Committee, proposes that governments must make public their budget plans and adjustments, final accounts and budgetary performance reports within 20 days after they are approved by people's congresses and their standing committees at corresponding levels.

A previous draft only required these documents be published in a "timely" manner, without giving further details.

Meanwhile, if the draft is approved, government departments will also have to publish their budget plans, final accounts and budgetary statements within 20 days of them being approved by corresponding fiscal organs, and spell out to the public beforehand arrangements and actual usage of their operational funds in budget plans and final accounts respectively.

Government procurement of goods, projects and services using fiscal funds too will be subject to public disclosure.

Officials in charge of budgetary affairs would face administrative penalties should they fail to publicize budgetary documents, according to the draft.

It proposes that citizens and organizations should be able to report acts in violation of the budget law to authorities, and that the latter must handle the appeals in a confidential manner in order to protect the informers.

China's current budget law came into effect in 1995. Many have since deemed the limited public access and supervision of governments' budgets provided in the law as unsatisfactory.

Painful efforts to amend the law began in 2005 but it was not until 2011 when the draft revision was tabled for the first reading.

In 2012, the draft revision to the budget law was submitted to lawmakers for a second reading and was later posted online to solicit public opinions, drawing some 330,000 comments and suggestions.

Aside from public access, the new bill presented for the third reading this week also promised enhanced oversight over central and local governments' budget powers by people's congresses at corresponding levels.

In addition, the draft revision said authorities must practice thrift when drawing up their budgets, adding that operational funds and basic construction expenditures would be placed under strict control.

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