State firms pressed to reveal bills for Moutai

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 February, 2012, 12:00am
 

A Shanghai-based lawyer has asked the central government to release details of Moutai purchases by 117 top state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

The price of Moutai, the mainland's most famous liquor brand, has risen dramatically over the past few years, and has become regarded by some as a gauge of social inequity, given that corrupt officials and well-paid executives at SOEs are among the few who can afford such a luxury.

A bottle of Moutai can cost anywhere from hundreds of yuan to more than 20,000 yuan (HK$24,500) for those that are 25 to 50 years old.

Yan Yiming, a lawyer who campaigns for rights protection and government transparency, has asked the State Council's State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (Sasac) to release the balance sheets, profit and loss and cash flow statements of the 117 central-government-owned enterprises. He also asked Sasac to reveal the annual incomes of staff of various ranks, as well as how much the SOEs had spent on Moutai and how many bottles they had bought.

He said there was widespread outrage over reports that the incomes of SOE employees had increased dramatically in recent years and he wanted Sasac to reveal salary details to assuage the public's concerns.

'If what is being said is true, we can't accept it because only a small number of people - those working at SOEs - have benefited from the prosperity of these companies, which have actually harnessed their monopoly status to achieve their current success,' he said yesterday.

He also urged Sasac to disclose details of SOEs' consumption of Moutai, a controversial subject following an admission last year by the Guangdong branch of oil giant Sinopec that it had spent 1.68 million yuan on the spirit.

Yan said Moutai was so expensive that even well-off white-collar workers could barely afford it for their personal enjoyment.

Liquor producer Kweichow Moutai has been raising prices for the past five years and says production still cannot meet demand.

'As far as I know, most buyers of Moutai don't take money out of their own pockets,' Yan said. 'Many people say that governments, SOEs and military units are the three major buyers of Moutai. This kind of abuse of public funds is unreasonable and unfair.'

In the wake of the scandal at Sinopec's Guangdong branch, Sasac vowed to strengthen the supervision of SOE officials' business entertainment and to boost the transparency of employees' salaries.

One internet user said officials would be disturbed by Yan's requests and would worry that next time they might be ordered to disclose their mistresses.

14.2%

How much production of Moutai increased by in 2011, year on year.

-Total production for the year was 30,000 tonnes

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