Frugality bites as China curbs construction of govt buildings

SHANGHAI, June 27 Thu Jun 26, 2014 11:55pm EDT

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SHANGHAI, June 27 (Reuters) - China plans to curb construction of unapproved government buildings, amid a national campaign against wasteful spending and graft, according to an updated draft regulation published by the State Council, the country's cabinet.

The Communist Party has been eager to project a frugal image since Xi Jinping became president last year, renewing efforts to stamp out corruption and win back public confidence after an endless series of scandals involving high-living officials.

Under the draft laws, any construction of government offices must be accompanied by feasibility reports and design blueprints, and will require official approvals before construction can begin, state news agency Xinhua reported on Thursday, citing the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council.

"Buildings with reception functions such as accommodation, meetings and banquets, including those in the name of 'training centres,' are off limits," it said.

The regulation will also ban any form of loans from financial institutes, sponsorships and fund-raising for unapproved construction projects.

According to the draft rules, officials and departments involved in illegal construction projects will be named and shamed, and those in serious cases will be held criminally responsible. Projects will be halted and the buildings in question will be evacuated and confiscated.

China's chief auditor on Wednesday rapped more government departments over unauthorised spending, including prominent state media outlets that are supposed to be leading a high-profile campaign to banish graft and excess. (Reporting by Chen Yixin and Fayen Wong; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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