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China gets tough on spending

Latin America and the US can learn a lot from China's new regulations to save money and the environment, despite the country's record setting budget surplus. This is from the Xinhua News Agency.

Report:

The Chinese government will ban the construction of wasteful and extravagant official buildings, including departmental hotels and entertainment centers.

A circular from the State Council and the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China has detailed a list of features prohibited from government buildings.

It includes:

-- Lobby areas higher than a single storey.

-- Meeting rooms equipped with simultaneous translating facilities.

-- Indoors gardens.

-- Atriums.

-- Stage areas with audio-visual equipment

The construction of "luxurious" government buildings has incurred many public complaints, said the circular.

It sets a cost limit of 4,000 yuan (US$512) per meter in the construction of ministerial level buildings.

The circular requires all government officials to be frugal in spending public money because China is still a developing country.

The circular orders finance and expenditure officials to thoroughly inspect construction plans of government buildings.

"The government will veto plans for any multi-functional meeting or training centers of government departments or institutions," the circular said, referring to the addition of restaurants and hotel-style accommodations in government buildings.

"Nor will funds from the government budget be allocated to renovate existing centers."

All government office buildings should be "stately," simple, and practical without "luxurious" interior or exterior decorations, the circular reads.

The elevators, heating, and air-conditioning facilities in these buildings must be environmentally friendly and energy-efficient.

All funding for the construction of government buildings must be allocated from the central budget. Bank loans or donations under any guise are prohibited.

It also requires departments and institutions in charge of construction planning and auditing to thoroughly investigate government buildings constructed in recent years or those under construction.

The circular stipulates that excessive space could be confiscated and sold if the constructions violated government rules.

(Xinhua News Agency April 18, 2007)

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