Vanity projects in a poor county

Local government in Rucheng county spent 48 million yuan (US$7 million) on a plaza, while some of its residents still do not have access to electricity.
Imaginechina

Local government in Rucheng county, an impoverished county in Hunan Province, spent 48 million yuan (US$7 million) on a plaza, while some of its residents still do not have access to electricity, according to a national newspaper report.

Earlier this year, an inspection team from Hunan provincial government was startled by the grandiose plaza in front of the county government building. It features six towering ginkgo trees worth 2.85 million yuan and eight sculpted stone columns that cost 1.2 million yuan, which are so incongruous in a poverty-stricken county with a per capita annual income below 3,000 yuan.

Subsequent investigation by the inspection team discovered that the local government was heavily in debt.

Part of the debt had been used to finance vanity projects.

Meanwhile, many residents were still living in dilapidated houses with kerosene lamps. Many of them spent the Spring Festival in 2016 and 2017 without running water.

That such projects are by no means uncommon suggests how grandiose image projects, while costly, can be “useful.” It is easy to see that nothing impresses certain superiors more than a few glittering projects seen from chauffeured limousines, and these superiors are often instrumental in deciding the promotion of their subordinates. Thus how to impress some superiors is often not a trifle for “ambitious” local officials.

It also suggests how out of touch some local officials could afford to be with the needs and plight of the people under their watch.


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