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November 23, 2009

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Rein in lavish banquets by officials: lawmaker

A CHINESE lawmaker has proposed holding people who use public funds on lavish banquets legally accountable so as to curb the widespread practice.

Zhao Linzhong, deputy to the National People's Congress, the top legislature, was quoted by yesterday's Workers' Daily as saying that social engagements in which dining and drinking is a must seriously undermine the work style of the government and social morals.

Zhao, also board chairman of Furun Holding Group Co Ltd in east China's Zhejiang Province, said some government officials and entrepreneurs had their health and work affected by excessive dining and wining.

It is a common practice for Chinese to have banquets or drinking parties when treating important guests on major occasions and during festivals. Financial deals and favors may be sealed at these events.

Visitors may think they are not important to the host if they are given only a modest reception.

Zhao blamed the social tradition as part of the reason, but added that a lack of supervision and legal loopholes had made the practice continue.

China has no laws governing excessive drinking and wining at public expenses.

In October, Fu Pinghong, former head of a hospital in Zhejiang Province, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for corruption and bribery. He had allegedly spent 440,000 yuan (US$64,400) of public funds on drinking, wining and entertaining guests.

Zhao said lavishing public funds equalled embezzlement of state assets, and laws should add the criminal offense of extravagant and wasteful spending.


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