Less spending on government, more on the people

China's new leaders have pledged cleaner government, less red tape and a reduction in government extravagance to free up money for social welfare programs.

Chinese listen to a news conference by newly-appointed Premier Li Keqiang who appears on a monitor screen after the closing ceremony of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Sunday, March 17, 2013. Photo:AP

Xi Jinping, China's newly-elected president, promised to resolutely fight corruption and other misconduct and to always preserve the political integrity of Communists.

"All members of the Communist Party of China, especially the leading cadres of the Party, must consolidate their ideals and conviction, always put the people above everything else, and exalt the Party's glorious tradition and fine conduct," Xi said at a closing meeting of the annual legislative session.

"We must resolutely reject formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance, and resolutely fight against corruption and other misconduct in all manifestations," Xi told almost 3,000 legislators.

"We must always preserve the political integrity of Communists and unswervingly strive for the cause of the Party and the people," he said.

Premier Li Keqiang said he is willing to accept supervision from society and the media on clean governance.

If one takes public office, he or she should cut off any expectation of getting rich, the new premier told a press conference yesterday.

"Pursuing government office and making money have been 'two separate lanes' since ancient times," he said.

"Only by being upright oneself, can he or she then asks others to be upright," the premier quoted a Chinese adage as saying.

Li urged a battle against corruption, which he described as "incompatible to the reputation of the government, like fire to water."

He said a sound mechanism will be established to ensure officials dare not and are unable to practise corruption and those corrupt will be punished by the law. "It is even more important to make sure power will be excised in an open and transparent fashion so that the people can supervise government effectively," he said.

The premier also promised to win trust from the people and bring benefits to them by practising frugality in government spending.

"Within my tenure, the government will not use public coffers to construct new offices, halls or guest houses for government use," Li said.

He said he will ensure that the number of government employees, spending on official hospitality, overseas trips for official purposes and purchases of official vehicles will be reduced.

The central government will set an example and governments at all levels must follow suit, he said.

"If the people are to live a good life, their government must be put on a tight budget," Li said.

However, the premier said spending on improving people's livelihoods is a must and "will surely increase." But he said: "We have to cut spending on government operations."



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