Huge waste of funds found in Guangdong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 October, 2005, 12:00am

An audit of thousands of senior Guangdong officials has revealed that at least 35 billion yuan in public funds was misspent between 2000 and the start of this year.

Releasing the report at the weekend, Guangdong Audit Office chief Zeng Shouxi said 4.7 billion yuan of taxpayers' money was also wasted and 61 billion yuan poorly managed in the five-year period.

The report is the result of a financial audit of 10,772 leading cadres at different levels of government during the period. Of officials targeted, 231 were later investigated for 'financial problems', 36 were dismissed from their jobs and 71 were demoted.

The audit office did not disclose details of the misused funds or the investigated cadres. However, according to an annual audit report released last year, most of the misappropriated money in 2003 was associated with infrastructure projects, relocation programmes and environmental protection.

Guangdong authorities praised the audit as an effective way to prevent corruption and oversee management of state assets.

The province also has plans to introduce a universal audit of cadres' personal and professional finances over the next two years. As part of the project, all government and party cadres below the county level should be audited when they leave their official positions starting next year.

From 2007, cadres at and above the county level and leaders of state-owned enterprises should also be reviewed at least once during their time in office.

Nanjing Audit University professor Yin Ping said the public could not expect financial audits to make too many inroads into corruption because fighting graft was just a 'part-time job' for auditors.

'Audits can only identify corruption after it has happened,' Professor Yin said. 'The fight against corruption is a systemic project and the prevention and punishment are also very important.'

Professor Yin said the auditing system should be refined by specifying the standards and criteria for evaluation.

'Some wrong decisions are the work of people who have left their posts and some are joint decisions by government and party officials, so we have to specify standards and criteria in order to find out who is really liable,' he said.

Professor Yin also warned that a shortage of auditors could limit the power of financial reviews to tackle corruption.