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Subsidies for travel to curb vehicle costs

Cao Yin
Updated: Jan 5,2015 6:58 AM

A new guideline to rein in vehicle expenses for the central government is causing many officials to rethink their commutes.

Instead of having cars provided by the government, officials at bureau level will receive monthly traffic subsidies of 1,300 yuan ($209), while those at director level and section level will get 800 yuan and 500 yuan a month, according to the guideline that took effect at the beginning of the year.

With the subsidy, an official at bureau level could travel 13 times by taxi from Beijing Capital International Airport to Guomao, one of Beijing’s busiest areas.

“I knew about the guideline and heard that the traffic subsidies had been enforced,” said an official from a central government department that was part of a pilot project. “Maybe the money will be given out gradually. I haven’t received any so far.”

The official, who declined to be named, told China Daily that all vehicles in her department paid for with public funds were taken back about two months ago, “and we were asked to think of ways to solve the traffic problem,” said the 37-year-old, who goes to work by bus.

“I will receive 800 yuan a month under the guideline,” she said, adding that public funds have been used strictly since the guideline came into effect.

The measures will later be extended to local administrations.

According to another official in Hegang, Heilongjiang province, the plan for traffic subsidies in his working area may be issued by the end of this year.

“More time is needed to extend the reform in local government departments, because the traffic conditions in each area are different,” said the official, who declined to be named.

“Although I don’t know how much money I can get under the reform, I’m looking forward to seeing our local plan and receiving the subsidies,” he added.

The reform has also cut into the workload of some drivers in government departments, according to Xinhua News Agency, adding that the problem of officials using government cars for private matters has also been alleviated.

Yang Xiaojun, a law professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, spoke highly of the reform, saying it can help fight corruption and save public money.

It is hard to make specific plans for local government departments, especially those at county level, Yang said.

SOE executives get thinner pay packages

Executives from State-owned companies will begin seeing smaller salaries this year.

The reform will first target some 200 executives from 72 State-owned companies, such as China Mobile and China National Petroleum Corporation, the national largest oil and gas producer.

Under the new guidelines, salaries for senior executives will be trimmed to about eight times the pay of the average worker, down from about 12 times now.

The cutbacks will later expand to other State-owned companies.