Audits of 52 local governments’ debt have found errors in data reporting and holes in debt relief plans, China’s national auditor said Wednesday.
In a report to national legislators, the National Audit Office (NAO) said a 2018 inspection of local budget implementation found 31 local authorities either inflating or deflating debt totals, while 11 localities lacked proper plans to deal with outstanding debts totaling 17 billion yuan ($2.47 billion).
The inspection covered 18 provincial governments, 17 cities and 17 counties, the NAO said.
The central government has ordered local officials to work out plans to dispose of their borrowings from before July 2017 in five to 10 years — through debt swaps or restructuring measures — as part of the national campaign to defuse debt risks.
The auditor suggested further enhancing supervision of local government spending and setting up a national debt risk monitoring mechanism.
Related: Editorial: Tighten the Cord on Local Debt