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Growth in Beijing’s “Stability Maintenance” Spending Decelerates

The Second Session of China’s 14th National People’s Congress submitted a report by the Ministry of Finance regarding central and local government budgets in 2023. The report revealed that defense expenditure in 2024 will amount to 1.67 trillion yuan (US$ 230 billion), an increase of 7.2 percent from a year ago, while public security expenditure will be 2276.62 billion yuan, an increase of 1.44 percent. In 2023, public security expenditure (a.k.a. “stability maintenance” expenditure) was 2089.72 billion yuan, representing an increase of 6.4 percent from 2022. The growth rate for stability maintenance spending this year has dropped by nearly five percentage points.

A commentator attributed the decrease in the growth rate of stability maintenance funding to the reduction in central government fiscal revenue. To compensate for reduced fiscal revenue, Beijing has increasingly leaned on local governments and street offices to foot the bill for stability maintenance: “Some 20 percent to 40 percent of local fiscal revenue will be used for stability maintenance.”

To make up for insufficient stability maintenance funding, local governments and local police have been attempting to boost revenue by issuing fines. Some local governments have also implemented temporary policies to increase fees charged to enterprises and individual merchants.

Source: Radio Free Asia, March 6, 2024