Auditor to also assess efficiency of agencies

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 July, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 July, 2004, 12:00am

Assessment expected to lift the level of fiscal management and curb corruption

The National Audit Office will also assess the efficiency of state-owned agencies following a high-profile report this year focusing on the financial irregularities of government departments.

Auditor-General Li Jinhua said that enough attention had been paid to irregularities in the books of state-owned assets and the time had come to weigh the efficiency of each operation's finances, the watchdog's website reported.

'Irrational investment decisions, which could result in heavy economic losses, shall also get a firmer hand,' the auditor-general said.

'Some state-owned enterprises have been bankrupted by erosion of assets stemming from concocted pretexts and transactions.

'All these irregular or illegal practices have revealed problems in macroeconomic controls, economic regimes and regulations.'

A source within the watchdog said some pilot efficiency audits had been launched, including an assessment carried out in relation to an education fund.

'The National Audit Office has rolled out a plan that by 2007, audits on the cost efficiency of funds will make up 50 per cent of the office's work,' the source said. 'The other half will be investigative auditing.'

Nearly all audits were now designed to determine the validity of spending, the source added.

'The National Audit Office doesn't intend to extend its influence by expanding efficiency audits,' the source said.

'But the emphasis on the validity of fund use and accounting practices has grown smoothly in China and now it's the right time to carry out efficiency auditing.

'We aim to follow international practice.'

The source said the office planned to release each audit report to the public, so the mainland system could become more transparent.

The agency's audit report this year generated a great deal of public interest once the media published its content.

The official said the power of the watchdog would not be boosted by its plans to conduct more efficiency auditing, but that the change in direction would raise its workload.

'We hope we can provide independent, impartial assessment,' the source said.

'We'll not intervene in affairs of other government bureaus and state-owned enterprises.'

The auditor-general said efficiency audits were expected to lift the standard of fiscal management and reduce corruption.

The National Audit Office is also planning to improve its own efficiency by adopting a computerised system by 2007.

'By 2007, we'll try to computerise 60 per cent of auditing projects in medium and big-sized cities,' Deputy Auditor-General Liu Jiayi said.