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Tough Issues for Balance Sheets of Local Governments

In a recent article in China Finance, which Xinhua then reprinted, Ma Jun, the chief economist for China’s central bank, the Bank of China, wrote about the balance sheets of local governments and related issues. 

In their preliminary work, most of the local governments completed the balance sheets in accordance with generally accepted international principles. Yet, the process also presented problems unique to China in terms of the scope, valuation methods, and accounting standards. Ma stated that in dealing with these issues, one should first consider the major objective for compiling the balance sheets, which is to help evaluate the debt risks that the local governments face and their future ability to repay these debts. 
Specifically, there are three major questions. First, should State-own enterprises be included in the balance sheets and how? Second, should special assets be included in the balance sheets? Special assets include debt-free public infrastructure (such as roads, bridges, and parks), minerals and other natural resources, and cultural assets. Third, should the balance sheets include pension liabilities? 
Source: China Finance reprinted by Xinhua, July 18, 2014