Poor city blows six months of its budget on PLA victory party

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 September, 2004, 12:00am

Officials in a poverty-stricken area in Sichuan province last month spent half its annual revenue on celebrations and top performers, including a singer who was paid 210 times the annual income of local farmers, according to state media.

The party and government leaders in Wanyuan city brought in the entertainment to mark a victory by the People's Liberation Army 70 years ago, the China Youth Daily reports.

As part of the event, the local authorities held a meeting in Beijing, retraced the route of the battle and staged a gala party.

The newspaper quoted unnamed people as saying that although it was necessary to commemorate acts of sacrifice, it was unacceptable to spend so much on star performers.

It said top singer Song Zuying was paid 420,000 yuan to perform four songs at a party on August 7. Wanyuan, a poor and remote area, did not even have a stage for a major show.

Local leaders instead used the gymnasium at a secondary school for the event, telling technicians from Chengdu to make the stage and bringing in 10,000 chairs for the performance.

Wanyuan officials also invited nearly 1,000 people, mainly senior officials, to join the celebrations, covering their expenses with local government money.

To help pay for it all, party and government leaders told 211 government bodies, schools and businesses to buy 5,000 tickets, worth 1.36 million yuan.

The report also quoted party officials as saying buying the tickets was a 'political assignment'.

In 2002, Wanyuan's income was 38 million yuan and its expenses were 202 million yuan. Last year the community's per capita gross domestic product was 3,536 yuan, almost half the provincial average.

Mao Shoulong , from the Renmin University of China's Public Administration School, said even if Wanyuan were not such a poor region, the money should have been spent on other projects.

'Public funds can only be used on public expenses, but the government used the money for a performance,' Professor Mao said.

'Spending of public funds managed by governments must follow procedures and be supervised. But decision-making and spending aren't always transparent.'