Official expenses trimmed
A campaign against government excess took major bites out of spending on official meetings, travel and vehicles last year, the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said. In a statement it said that money spent on meetings, official overseas trips and vehicle purchases fell by about 53 percent, 39 percent and 10 percent respectively from 2012. The leadership under President Xi Jinping (習近平) has been publicizing efforts to crack down on wasteful government spending and corruption to shore up its mandate to rule, which has been shaken by suspicion that officials waste taxpayers’ money on extravagances even as economic growth slows. The commission is preparing to investigate numerous government agencies this year, including the Ministry of Science and Technology, Shanghai-based Fudan and other regional governments including that of Beijing, Xinhua news agency said.
Honda recalls vans
Honda is recalling about 900,000 vans in the US for a defect to the fuel pump that could cause a fire. In its notice to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Friday, Honda said no injuries or fires have been reported due the defect, linked to a crack in the fuel pump strainer cover. The cracks, which developed when acidic chemicals and a high temperature caused deterioration, “could lead to a fuel smell being present or to leaking fuel, increasing the risk of fire,” Honda said. The company is notifying van owners now, but said parts will not be available until this summer, and a second notification will go out when repairs can be made. Any cars with an existing leak will get immediate repairs. The recall affects 886,815 Honda Odyssey vehicles from the 2005 to 2010 model years.
Germany to rule on bailout
Germany’s highest court will tomorrow make its final ruling on the legality under national law of the European bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), having earlier backed it in principle. Throughout the eurozone turmoil since 2010, Germany’s Constitutional Court has repeatedly been asked by eurosceptics to rule on whether new EU crisis-fighting tools are in line with Germany’s constitution. This time the focus will be on the stability mechanism, set up to bail out troubled countries and their banks, with a maximum lending capacity of 500 billion euros (US$696 billion), guaranteed by the member states. Germany’s share of these guarantees amounted to 190 billion euros, more than that of any other country.
Food bill to be US$4.31bn
The nation’s food subsidy bill will be 30 billion Egyptian pounds (US$4.31 billion) this year, the government said, pledging to tackle a smuggling “mafia.” Top officials were fired at the state-owned silos and storage holding company and at the main wheat importing body amid allegations of corruption in an economy struggling to recover from three years of political turmoil. About 7 million Egyptian pounds of the subsidies bill was wasted yearly due to the smuggling, official say. The government buys about 10 million tonnes of wheat abroad and another 3.6 million to 3.7 million tonnes locally for its subsidized bread program, upon which millions of poor depend. However, bakers can siphon off the flour provided by the government to bake loaves sold at private bakeries beyond the reach of the poor.