Assign Public-service Cigarettes Quotas to Spur Economy – Southern Weekend

Earlier there was an alcohol ban for officials in Henan to save taxpayer money. Now assigned cigarette spending aims to boost the local economy. Translated by CDT from Southern Weekend:

On March 15, 2007, the Honghu city (洪湖市 county-level) government in Jinzhou (荆州), Hubei Province, issued an official document, distributing an assigned cigarette spending budget to 114 county-affiliated government agencies and grass-roots organizations in its townships, along with a game book of awards and punishments.

According to this document, those who could make the quota (number of packs) will be awarded kickbacks of 8-20% based on spending. Those who have missed targets will have their public finance budgets deducted by 170 yuan per pack left unbought. But in September, the game, officially known as “the announcement to do a good job on public-service cigarette management in 2007,” was over.

But two months after the retraction of the directive, the document remianed on the government web site until this story was published, and some local officials didn’t know that there was a cigarette game going on.

Not only Honghu, but also other Jingzhou counties have all been swept up in this cigarette “promotion.” Although some local government agencies have a problem even in paying employees on time, most say that achieving the targets isn’t a mission impossible. The Honghu government site, for example, claimed a sales figure of 18,822 packs of , or 20% over its set goal. Based on a market price range of 170-600 yuan/pack, the for government use will amount to 3.2-10 million yuan a year.

Some local cadres express their understanding of the government’s intentions. “Public-service cigarettes can play an exemplary role and promote consumption in the market, and increase tax revenues from cigarettes,” a tobacco official in Honghu County said. [Full Text in Chinese]



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