BEIJING (AFP) - Officials in eastern China have triggered public outrage by claiming that a $425,000 yacht bought with government money was intended for collecting taxes.
Images of the 32-metre (100-foot) yacht appeared on social media sites in China, sparking a furious reaction from bloggers who called for an investigation ino the tax bureau in Zhejiang province.
The zjol.com.cn news website, which is run by authorities in Zhejiang, quoted tax official Fang Yongjun as saying the yacht's two decks had been converted for use as a tax collection office.
The tax bureau needs the yacht because many local businesses operate on the Thousand Island Lake, a national tourist area, the report said.
It quoted the yacht's builder Ma Xiaochun as saying the 2.71 million yuan
($425,000) price tag was low compared with other boats on the lake.
But netizens were unconvinced. "Do they need a helicopter for tax collection in the mountains?" asked one web user on Netease.com, a popular Chinese portal.
Public spending has come under growing scrutiny this year after Beijing ordered central government departments to publish details of their expenditure on cars, foreign trips and receptions.
Spending on those three areas by the State Administration of Taxation amounted to 2.17 billion yuan, the highest of all the 95 departments that have released figures to date, previous Chinese media reports have said.
"Taxpayers were not even consulted about the purchase," columnist Wang Shichuan wrote Monday in the Zhujiang Evening News, a newspaper in southern China.
"Supervision and auditing authorities should investigate the purchase of the yacht and make sure the use of the boat will be transparent... it would be a waste of taxpayer's hard-earned money if the yacht is used for fun."
'호화유람선 타고 섬지역 세금 걷으러 다녀'
중국의 한 지방 국세국이 섬 지역의 세금을 걷는 데 쓴다며 271만위안(약 5억원)에 달하는 호화 유람선을 사들여 논란이 되고 있다고 홍콩 명보(明報)가 26일 전했다.
중국의 한 네티즌은 최근 저장성(浙江省) 국세국이 구입한 유람선의 테이프 커 팅 장면을 자신의 웨이보(트위터)에 올렸다.
국세국 측은 관할 구역이 1천78개의 크고 작은 섬으로 이뤄져 있고 여기에 수백 가구의 납세자가 살고 있다면서 세금을 걷는데 이 배를 쓸 것이라고 말했다.
유람선은 1층은 국세국 업무를 보는 곳으로, 2층은 납세자가 대기하면서 쉬는 공간 등으로 각각 꾸며졌다. (연합뉴스)