Taste Of Democracy In The Course Of Village Life – John Garnaut

From Sydney Morning Herald:

In the fiscal debauchery of a modern Australian election campaign it can be hard to imagine that democracy causes governments to spend taxpayer money more wisely. But that’s because Australians have never known anything else.

In China’s 800,000 villages, local officials spend 44 per cent of their budgets on themselves, including salaries, administration costs and entertainment, a 2005 World Bank report says. They call it banquet money.

The Communist Party’s patrimonial system encourages village leaders to obsequiously cater to their superiors in towns and cities, but rarely does it require them to answer to the people they govern. This is partly why China’s rural infrastructure and services are so poor, nominal rural incomes are less than one-third of urban incomes and China’s leaders are finding it so hard to create what they call a New Socialist Countryside. [Full Text]

Read also Village Elections, Public Goods Investments and Pork Barrel Politics, Chinese-style by Scott Rozelle, Renfru Luo, Linxiu Zhang and Jikun Huang.

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