Chinese Budget Disclosures Still Considered Inadequate

14 May 2012

China is disclosing more information about its budget, but “the data being released is still too vague to satisfy the taxpayers’ demands,” according to a May 14 article in the China Daily by  Zhao Yinan.

“So far, 92 out of the government 98 departments and State-funded organizations have laid bare their accounts since April 23 – the same number as last year and 18 more than in 2010, the article says. The recent reports “include some new elements, such as explanations of expenditures, indicating efforts to enrich the previous one-page sheets provided for public scrutiny in the early days of fiscal disclosure.”

“We can see progress, but there is a lot of room for improvement,” Jiang Hong, a professor of public finance with the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, is quoted as saying.

In another commentary on transparency in China, the Guardian blog includes an article by Open Democracy’s Sam Geall documenting “that environmental information is still tightly controlled in China.”

The China Daily report says that it is “unprecedented” for the government to disclose tax revenues, such as the education surtax for businesses.

In 2008,  China enacted the Government Information Disclosure Regulation. Among other things, governments at all levels are mandated to “take the initiative to disclose fiscal information to the public.”

Ma Jun, a professor of public governance at Sun Yat-sen University, praised the progress, but said more specificity and timeliness is needed.

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