The fiscal budget for the Tiananmen area has aroused controversy after being published online, as it includes 16 million yuan ($2.5 million) for the maintenance of two LED screens.
The total budget for the area is 238 million yuan, divided into 30 sectors. The cash allocated for the screens, installed in 2009, is the largest single expense in the budget, costing more than security and cleaning, according to the website of Tiananmen Area Administrative Committee.
Web users speculated whether the screen maintenance budget could be correct, while some believe that screens are unnecessary in a historical place like Tiananmen Square.
"If the operation and maintenance of the two LED screens costs 16 million yuan a year, then it means they cost over 40,000 yuan every day," posted yellyelp on his Sina microblog.
The two screens, 7.5 meters high by 50 meters wide, show an introductory film about China, and a message appealing to visitors to display good manners.
A Beijing-based LED screen display company employee, surnamed Liu, who has worked for almost 10 years in LED production, said that a large outdoor LED screen may cost 20,000 yuan per day, considering the maintenance fee and payment for changing fittings. His company does not provide the Tiananmen screens.
Zhu Lijia, Public Policy and Management School professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, echoed Web users' opinions.
"What a big waste of public funds," Zhu told the Global Times, adding that with 16 million yuan, the country can build 80 primary schools in remote villages.
There are many of these screens in China, and mostly they are only an image promoting project, said Zhu, suggesting it is unnecessary to switch them on every day. They could be used only for special occasions like national holidays, he said.
Tiananmen Area Administrative Committee could not be reached yesterday.