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China's ‘Luxury Disease’ Extends to Lavish Government Buildings

Lavish government buildings is nothing new in China, however, nothing can be compared to the new government building in Jinan, capital of East China's Shandong Province.

According to media reports [zh], the “Long Ao building” cost 4 billion RMB (US$640 million), and is now the largest and most expensive government building in China.

The 4 billion RMB Long Ao building is the largest and most expensive government building in China. A screenshot from the media report on youku.

Many netizens compared the buildings’ 4 billion budget with the 180 million budget the city spent on the poor in villages since 2003.

A Jinan government officer explained on December 11, 2012 that the 4 billion investment included costs of the demolition of the old site and land consolidation. He claimed that “not a penny of government money was used” because the money came from replacing old government buildings.

His insensitive comment further triggered online anger with many netizens urging for transparency. Below are some comments from experts and well-known bloggers and reporters.

Sarcastic dialogue:

于建嵘: 要好好查一下,是哪一个缺心眼的设计师,为何不是全球第一呢?!不第一,如何对得起咱们伟大的国家和伟大的时代啊!

于建嵘: What’s wrong with the architect? We should track him down. Why doesn’t he make this the world's  biggest individual structure in the world?! How is he worthy of this great country and its great time!

 抚顺李明律师:因为他们的家人都在美国,只好谦让一下了。

抚顺李明律师: Because their families are in the US, so they have to be a little modest.

 Call For More Transparency: 

恩吉尔斯奈特:说实话,第一次看到龙奥大厦这么大的行政办公大厦的时候我也震撼了,其经费来源的确有必要向公众公示。

恩吉尔斯奈特: Honestly, it's my first time seeing such a huge government office, I was shocked. It is necessary to make the source of the funds public.

 

菁菁远山:如果说政府大楼”没有花政府一分钱”,这只能证明济南政府具备了超强的掠夺实力,政府成了一个超级“权力公司”,其权力资本的运作能力和水平可谓达到了一个令人生畏的程度,因而龙奥大厦无疑成为观察中国社会的一个窗口。

菁菁远山: If the government says “not a penny of government money is used”, it means Jinan government has a strong ability to seize, the government has become a super “power company” whose operational capability and level is daunting. Long Ao building has undoubtedly become a window to Chinese society.

 

吴龙贵:“没花政府一分钱”的辩解,比之豪华办公楼更让人无法容忍。因为这不仅是民意的公然无视和挑衅,更表明地方政府对公共财政和公共资源的使用缺乏理性的认识。公众有理由质疑,在豪华办公楼的背后,有多少纳税人的钱是以“没花政府一分钱”的名义理直气壮地挥霍掉的?

吴龙贵: “ This “not a penny of government money is used” claim is even more intolerable than the lavish building itself, because this is a provocation, a blatant disregard for public opinion. It shows that the local government doesn’t have a rational knowledge of the use of public finances and resources. The public has every reason to question that, behind this luxury building, how much taxpayers’ money has been squandered in the name of “no a penny of government money is used”?

 

和讯网评论:从程序看,根治政府办公楼建设中的“豪华病”,有必要通过制度建设加强对相关人的责任追究,形成制度性压力。从财政开支看,政府大楼建设花的是纳税人的钱,需要人大依法进行预算监督,推动预算的公开透明化。

和讯网评论:How to cure the “luxury disease” in the construction of government buildings? It is necessary to strengthen government officials’ accountability through rule of law. Government building construction used taxpayers’ money, it is necessary for the National People's Congress to practice budget supervision in accordance with the law and promote public transparency of the budget.

 

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