A grassroots government office in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen spent over 300,000 yuan to buy three trees in 2011 as part of a programme to "beautify" the city ahead of the World University Games, government auditors have found.
The Huangmabu community office, under the Bao’an District, paid a total of 310,000 yuan for two camphor trees and one autumn maple were in 2011, the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily reported.
Luo Minwei, Party secretary of the community office, was quoted by the newspaper as saying camphor trees were bought “at a discount” when tree prices rose that year as Shenzhen was hosting the World University Games.
The Shenzhen Audit Bureau’s 2013 report found government expenditure on forestry and water supplies wasteful, citing the expensive trees as one example. It did not say why it took it two years to notice the 2011 purchases.
Money used to buy the trees was part of the 400,000-yuan subsidy given by Bao’an district government for a province-wide “10,000 Green Villages” project, Luo said.
The Southern Metropolis Daily said it found two camphor trees outside the Huangmabu community office and was unable to locate the autumn maple.
The Bao’an district urban management bureau told the newspaper that the community office had received the greenlight from higher government offices to go ahead with for the purchase. The project was part of an effort to repair the ecological damages caused by industrialisation in the city.