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Finance ministry cuts official perks

THE Ministry of Finance yesterday ordered government officials to cut spending on overseas trips, car purchases and entertainment, as the economy slows and the country grapples with a growing budget deficit.

Chinese media have reported on a string of scandals involving officials going overseas supposedly on business trips on the public purse when in fact they spent most of their time shopping and sightseeing.

Other officials have been punished for wasteful spending on extravagant buildings or large feasts and karaoke parties, especially in the poorer inland regions, using government money.

But spending this year on business trips abroad by officials will have to be cut by 20 percent from the average level of the last three years, the finance ministry said in a statement.

Spending on cars will have to drop by 15 percent and entertainment by 10 percent, the ministry's notice said.

"Every department must seriously follow the demands of the notice, make cuts themselves and control related expenses," it added.

China's economy has slowed significantly as demand in Western countries for Chinese products has softened, with annual economic growth falling to 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, from 13 percent for all of 2007.

The national budget deficit will jump more than sevenfold this year to over 1 trillion yuan (US$146.3 billion) as a result of the global economic crisis and a massive state stimulus package.


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