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Massage details posted carelessly

THE Shenzhen City Construction Bureau said it was pure "carelessness" that allowed a post on its Website to say department level officials had an annual allowance of 4,000 yuan (US$584) for "recuperation services," including foot and body massages, at the public expense.

However, the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China's Shenzhen Committee refused to say how much was spent on recuperation services and whether the budget had been approved by the government, Yangcheng Evening News reported yesterday.

The post was intended to be placed in an internal information network for officials only, but operators carelessly put it online creating heated criticism from Netizens.

The post, by the government-backed Qilin Mountain Sanatorium, said department level officials have an annual allowance of 4,000 yuan for "recuperation services" while each division chief has an allocation of 2,100 yuan.

Shenzhen has more than 200 department level officials and about 2,500 division chiefs, which means the city may have allocated more than 6.5 million yuan for senior civil servants to spend on massages.

Senior officials may also use their allowance on health care, fishing trips, tennis and training courses in designated resorts or luxury hotels in Shenzhen or other cities in Guangdong Province.

A senior office clerk in Shenzhen's finance department told the newspaper on Thursday that the budget was set by the organization department.

The most expensive massage in the Qilin Mountain Sanatorium is a Thai massage, which costs 248 yuan an hour, or up to 290 yuan with the best therapist. But top hospitals in Shenzhen charge less than 60 yuan for massages, the report said.

The post was discovered during the annual session of the local People's Congress. Concerns were raised among delegates and political advisors about the use of public funds for massages.

Yang Yiping, a lawyer and a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said civil servants should spend taxpayers' money thriftily, especially during the current financial crisis.


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