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Local Government Debts: Backdoor Loans

Xinhua reprinted a China Business News article reporting on backdoors loans made to local governments. The article stated that such loans are rampant and lack proper accounting. 

According to China Business News, when, due to their investment and financing platforms and the local governments existing debts, they find it difficult to obtain additional loans, some of them ask large companies that have international backgrounds to take out bank loans on their behalf. These large companies then use local governments’ land as collateral for the bank loans.

Because the loans are obtained to satisfy the needs of local governments, the funds are then remitted to the local governments, thus becoming debts of the local governments. However, as a result of special accounting treatment, the local governments do not record the loans on the books as actual loans, but as current accounts with these large companies. 

First, not all the fund transfers are recorded in the books. Second, since the local governments’ land is used as collateral for the loans, some local governments may call the loans “Assets” on their books. Third, because the large companies have already recorded the loans as liabilities, the local governments use that as a reason not to report the loans as their own liabilities. Fourth, some large companies have gone so far as to create a separate bank account for these loans. The money is set aside for the local governments to use so they can withdraw funds and deposit the payments for the loans. 

Source: China Business News reprinted by Xinhua, November 19, 2013