Jun 11, 2014 07:19 PM

In Wednesday's Papers: Xinhua Required to Return 3.5 Mln Yuan for Paid Reports, Environment Ministry Seeks 2 Tln Yuan for Water Clean-up

Xinhua Required to Return 3.5 Mln Yuan for Paid Reports

The Shanghai bureau of the state-run Xinhua News Agency has been asked to return 3.5 million yuan to terminate a contract for a publicity partnership with the Bank of Communications as a result of a recent investigation by the Communist Party's corruption fighter. A graft inspection targeting party members in Xinhua, the country's land regulator, and officials in Jilin and Anhui provinces, saw a total of 122 officials punished for wrongdoing. In a report on the inspection, the Central Discipline Inspection Commission (CDIC) castigated Xinhua for violations in news operations including paid reports, The Beijing News reports.

The inspector also criticized some officials at the Ministry of Land and Resources for seeking personal gain, including the head of the ministry's legal department. Several agencies under the ministry were found to be violating the rules on official spending, Xinhua reports.

In the northeastern province of Jilin, 23 vice secretary generals at the provincial or lower level governments were removed to cut redundancy in government agencies.

Environment Ministry Seeks 2 Tln Yuan for Water Clean-up

The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) has submitted a draft plan to tackle water pollution, according to Nanjing Daily. The plan, which was submitted to the State Council, the country's cabinet, for approval, involves total investment of 2 trillion yuan in projects to address the country's worsening water pollution. The plan, also known as Ten Measures for Water, comes after a key document to address air pollution was approved by the cabinet in September. The MEP is also drafting a similar policy to address land pollution. Official figures show that about 10 percent of the country's surface water has been severely polluted.

Environmental companies drew optimism from the MEP's announcement on the expectation that upcoming changes to water policy will bring opportunities. According to news portal Netease, environment-related companies reported an average 3.7 percent share price rise on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, led by water project companies.

Corruption Probe Launched on Another Shanxi Official

The CDIC said on June 10 that Wang Yinwang, party head of Pingding County in the northern province of Shanxi, has been put under investigation for discipline violations. Wang is the latest local official to fall from grace in the coal-rich province. Recent media reports say Pingding County has been involved with illegal coal mining activities. Sources close to the provincial government told Caixin that county governments in the province have several vacancies in top positions as a result of anti-corruption investigations.

22 Pct of Local Gov't Debt to Mature in 2014, Finance Official Says

About 21.89 percent of total outstanding local government debt will mature by the end of this year, said Wang Baoan, vice minister of finance, and will place increasing pressure on local authorities on repayment responsibilities. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, by the end of June 2013, outstanding local government loans totaled 11 trillion yuan, which means this year's repayment would reach 2.4 trillion yuan, China Business News reported. Wang said that along with the repayment pressure, local governments are expected to encounter challenges from slower fiscal revenue growth and rising public spending. The Ministry of Finance estimated that from 2015 to 2017, local government debt repayment ratio will be 17 percent, 11.6 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively.

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