China govt agencies told to cut expenditures by 5% this year: Xinhua

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's Finance Ministry has told central government agencies to cut expenditures by 5 per cent this year, a move the official Xinhua news agency said was part of an austerity campaign launched by the country's new leaders.

A ministry circular ordered spending cuts in a range of areas, including the building and renovation of government offices, meetings, domestic and overseas trips, vehicles and official receptions, Xinhua reported on Sunday.

The planned cuts come at a time when China is facing potentially its worst economic downturn in at least 14 years.

Analysts say the economy is backsliding into another downturn but top leaders are reluctant to take policy steps to stimulate growth.

Since becoming president in March, Communist Party leader Xi Jinping has pushed an anti-corruption agenda and ordered officials to be more thrifty.

The central government's budget for 2013, approved by Parliament in March, was 6.96 trillion yuan (S$1.45 trillion). It is unclear how much of that would be affected by the planned spending cuts.

In 2012, central government expenditure was about 6.41 trillion yuan.

The Finance Ministry circular urged government agencies to use funds more efficiently, Xinhua said.