An alcohol ban at lunches for all officials half a year ago has saved the taxpayers 43 million yuan compared with the first half of 2006, enough to build a major factory and 40-50 elementary schools, or about the amount of revenue for a small county. The lower the government, the more the savings, due to the fact that grassroots cadres tend to have a lot of working lunches or little banquets at noon. Township dining expenses dropped by 40%, and city level expenses by 25%.
This is, however, only part of the good news, according to Xinyang’s party secretary Wang Tie (ÁéãÈìÅ). Other significant benefits include better health of officials, more harmonious co-worker relationships and more robust investment growth.
In July, 127 division head level (Â§ÑÁ∫ß) cadres tested as having alcohol-related diseases, while the number was 252 at the same time last year. And medical expenses for these officials dropped too, Wang said.
GDP for the first half of this year grew 14.8%, higher than the provincial average. Henan also posted its best growth for grain output. Investors too seemed more attracted to the semi-alcohol-free city administration. Among the cadres, there were fewer verbal fights and less majhong playing, an entrenched nationwide pastime.
Still, some officials continued to go about their lunches with bottles. The alcohol-ban inspectors found 269 people violating the ban. The good news is, according to Wang, most of these ban breakers are lower level cadres, many of whom are taking a chance. And Wang is happy that higher officials are getting the message.
The public also expressed support and satisfaction, although the secretary acknowledged that the ban may have a negative effect on the booming restaurant business. [Full text in Chinese]
[Image: Xinyang secretary Wang Tie sitting in an interview with Xinhua Henan channel, via sina.com]