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Schools ordered to buy local cigarettes

A COUNTY government in central China's Hubei Province has sparked a public outcry over a plan ordering government departments and schools to buy locally made cigarettes.

The Wuhan-based ChuTian Metropolis Daily said the Gong'an County government was implementing the plan to boost the regional economy.

The plan orders all local government departments, organizations, service centers and corporations to consume at least 23,000 cartons of cigarettes this year - 400 cartons for most departments and corporations and 140 cartons for each school. The government will help purchase the cigarettes. About 4 million yuan (US$586,000) is expected to be spent on the plan.

A monthly plan has to be produced by each organization listing consumption and the government will check the figures. Departments failing to make the quota will have their budgets cut and organizations not using government-approved cigarettes will be fined 1,000 yuan.

The county government intends to retrieve losses from cigarette income tax with the plan, according to Chen Nianzu, a member of Gong'an's cigarette leadership group.

"We're guiding people to help contribute to the local economy," he said.


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