Audit exposes 4.2b yuan graft

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 February, 2008, 12:00am

The National Audit Office uncovered nearly 4.2 billion yuan in misused public funds at central government agencies during the first 10 months of last year, according to the latest audit report.

The report, released this week, said 88 officials were arrested in the same period in connection with abuses of public funds and another 117 were disciplined.

Funding irregularities have been rampant on the mainland and Beijing has stepped up efforts to crack down on misappropriation of public funds in its departments and key infrastructure projects, including the Three Gorges Dam scheme.

Last year 56 central government departments were found to have fund irregularities, including budget irregularities valued at 34.83 billion yuan. Most of the problems had been fixed or would be solved through financial reform, the report added.

The office overseeing the South-to-North Water Diversion project was one of 34 central government agencies found to have siphoned off 859 million yuan from Beijing's coffers for other unauthorised projects.

Another 25 agencies, including the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Culture, misused 2.75 billion yuan in public funds in the same period.

At least 23 departments under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Agriculture were also found to have misused 2.08 billion yuan in public funds including undervaluing the assets of state-owned enterprises in ownership transfers.

Beijing has been more willing to share such audit information with the public in recent years.

However, detractors have questioned the role of the audit office, saying it had been given too much power under the zealous directorship of Li Jinhua , which could be abused without proper checks and balances.

Many analysts suggest giving the wider community, including NGOs, more say in policy making and the supervision of key government projects.