The Chinese yuan, also known as the renminbi, is already convertible under the current account - the broadest measure of trade in goods and services. However, the capital account, which covers portfolio investment and borrowing, is still closely managed by Beijing because of worries about abrupt capital flows.
Auditor's report details litany of financial abuse
The mainland's top audit office says 300 central government officials, including some department chiefs, abused funds totalling almost 4.4 billion yuan (HK$5.4 billion) last year.
Liu Jiayi, auditor general of the National Audit Office, said several ministries or ministry-level agencies had mis-stated their revenue or violated fiscal regulations, including the Ministry of Finance.
Liu delivered his findings in his annual report to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress yesterday. He found that the abuse of public funds involved 50 central ministries and agencies and reached 4.39 billion yuan.
The auditor general said there was a growing trend of corrupt officials taking bribes through middlemen, such as by requiring individuals or businesses to apply for government approval or bid for tenders through consultancies linked to the officials.
The audit report also raised concerns about unreported items of central- government income and expenditure. It cited 6.2 billion yuan of income and 1 billion yuan of expenditure, both related to foreign aid since 2008, that do not appear in the books of the commerce, health and agriculture ministries.
Liu said the Ministry of Finance had made an inaccurate report to the NPC in its budget implementation report last year, claiming 1.92 billion yuan less in revenue than it actually had.
Liu said the Ministry of Railways had illegally shortened the application period for companies bidding on infrastructure projects on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway. The period was cut to 13 hours from at least five days. That reduced opportunities for companies to take part in the bidding, Liu said.
Liu said serious loopholes existed in the regulation of how public funds were spent on receptions, overseas trips and vehicle use.
Officials' indulgence in lavish banquets, expensive trips abroad, extravagant gifts and the use of limousines has fuelled accusations from the public of rampant corruption.
Finance Minister Xie Xuren also made a report yesterday to the legislature, saying that officials from central government departments spent 9.34 billion yuan on receptions, overseas trips and vehicle use last year.
Meanwhile, expenditure on public safety and defence reached 103.7 billion yuan and 583 billion yuan respectively last year, Xie told the legislature.
Overall, income for the central government last year reached 5.13 trillion yuan, while it spent 5.64 trillion yuan, resulting in a deficit of 650 billion yuan, 50 billion yuan less than forecast.
The central government's total spending for last year in yuan, according to a report from Finance Minister Xie Xuren