For years, people have been guessing and making estimates about how much money governments at all levels spend each year on overseas trips, official banquets and the cars used by officials.
There are various figures and all of them are large. Some estimates put the total amount of money governments spend in the three areas at 900 billion yuan, or $137 billion, a year that represents about 30 percent of the total government expenditure.
These guesses and estimates have aroused the public's anger against the waste of taxpayers' money by government officials. And the opaqueness of such spending has only helped add to citizen's suspicions and grievances.
At its meeting on Wednesday, the State Council decided that the central government's budget for such expenditure would be disclosed in June and reaffirmed the government's commitment to cutting spending in these three areas.
An editorial from China Daily says the disclosure of public spending on government cars, overseas trips and official banquets is the first step toward cutting the unnecessary waste of taxpayers' money and realizing clean and honest governance.
The article further points out the Communist Party Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and other central government departments initiated a campaign to curb uncontrolled trips overseas by government officials at public expense in 2008. The following year there was a 49 percent reduction in the number of overseas trips made by government officials and the money saved totaled 1.6 billion yuan.
The paper concludes that disclosing such figures will not just dispel people's suspicions and appease their grievances but also make it possible for people to supervise the government. By comparing the expenditures for one year with those of another, people will get to know whether the government has cut such expenditure.