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China State Auditor Finds Irregularities in Local-Government Borrowing

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06/30/2016 | 05:06am CEST

BEIJING--China's state auditor said it found irregularities in some local-government borrowing, worth billions of dollars.

Several local governments borrowed 23.59 billon yuan ($3.55 billion) for infrastructure projects last year and promised returns from the projects, Wang Jiayi, head of the National Audit Office said in a report.

About 300 billion yuan was borrowed by local governments that either provided creditors with guarantees for other agencies or promised lenders that they could provide public services in exchange the funds, the auditor said.

The auditor, which checked on 11 provinces, named the provinces of Zhejiang, Shandong, Henan, Sichuan, Heilongjiang, Hunan and Inner Mongolia in its report.

Local governments can only raise funds by issuing bonds and can only provide guarantees for some foreign debt, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said a in a separate report released Wednesday.

Outstanding local government debt nationwide stood at 16 trillion yuan at the end of last year, Wang Kebing, a finance ministry official said at a briefing last week. Apart from that, local governments still have more than 7 trillion yuan that they had provided guarantees for other institutions, he said.

Write to Liyan Qi at liyan.qi@wsj.com

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