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China cuts over one-third of government-funded ceremonies, seminars in 2011

Source:   Time:

BEIJING, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- China canceled over one-third of all official ceremonies, seminars and forums last year in a bid to avoid extravagance or corruption in the use of public resources.

Some 2,549 such activities proposed by governments or public institutions, or 37.7 percent of the total applications, which were deemed "ceremonial" and "unnecessary," were cut, saving 1.22 billion yuan (about 193.39 million U.S. dollars), said an official statement released Sunday.

The statement was issued by the State Council's Office for Rectifying Malpractices, a ministry-level inter-agency supervisory body dedicated to eliminating administrative irregularities and abuse of power in government agencies, public institutions and major service sectors.

Last year's inspections focused on activities co-funded by ministries and local governments, the statement said.

The Chinese government agreed with the public that the soaring number of official celebrations, seminars and forums would cost plenty of money and manpower and exacerbate corrupt behaviors.

In March, the State Council, or China's Cabinet, ordered 98 ministries and ministry-level government organs to make public their budgets and expenditures on official overseas visits, public vehicles and official receptions -- the "three public consumptions" that had triggered widespread public concern.

Premier Wen Jiabao also repeatedly urged the country's government agencies to reduce administrative expenses, including cutting the number of meetings and documents printed.

Official figures indicate that the country's crackdown on various forms of extravagant spending by officials saved the country 5.7 billion yuan in 2010.

A blue book on China's conferences published in November estimated that the total output of the country's conference industry had reached nearly 1 trillion yuan. Companies made up half of this total, while a considerable portion came from the government and public institutions compared to other social organizations.

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