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City takes action on plate-sale disclosure

THE Shanghai government is preparing to make the city's monthly auction of private car number plates more transparent and accountable.

A new regulation, the Management Rules for the Auction of Private-Car Plates, has been drafted and includes a clause on the regular disclosure of turnover.

It marks the first official guidelines for the plate auctions that began in Shanghai in 1994.

Last month's average price for a private plate was 30,363 yuan (US$4,444.75).

Shanghai is the only city on China's mainland to charge car owners license fees in an attempt to curb traffic congestion.

Team effort

Attorney Liu Zhengdong, head of Shanghai Bar Association and a deputy to Shanghai People's Congress, said yesterday the city transport authority had teamed up with the city Development and Reform Commission in working out the draft.

Liu said the move was in response to a number of complaints from the public.

City drivers have for some time been calling for either the cancellation of the auctions or the provision of detailed figures on where the proceeds are spent.

Liu is one of the local legislators who have pushed for an official and effective legal system to cover all parties involved in the auctions.

He said he recently received a reply from the government saying that "related departments" would disclose auction profits and how the funds were spent.

But the official reply did not mention how regularly the budgetary figures would be made public.

Some lawyers concerned about the auctions said any regulation changes by the People's Congress would be a step in the right direction.

On July 4, the local government for the first time released a brief income and expenditure report of its plate-auction system.

It said up to 13.86 billion yuan out of the accumulated 15.55 billion yuan collected from plate fees had been spent.

The expenditure was mostly for traffic upgrades, such as constructing new roads, and streamlining public transport.

Some city lawyers said controversy over the auction process would end with a more detailed accounting system.

July's auction last Saturday was postponed until Sunday after hackers crashed the online system. A spate of lawsuits has ensued as bidders seek compensation.

After the first round of the auction last Saturday, the lowest bid was only 100 yuan.

The record bid for a plate was 57,000 yuan at the end of 2007, which is equivalent to the price of an average sedan by domestic producers.


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