Register of family interests covers 180,000 officials

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 January, 2009, 12:00am

More than 180,000 Communist Party officials have reported the job details of their spouses and children, which the mainland's top graft watchdog touts as a 'new advance' in self-discipline.

But analysts say the disclosures are just a minor step in fighting corruption.

The party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced on Tuesday that 185,940 officials had registered job information about their spouses or children since the 17th party congress in October 2007, according to the China News Service.

The practice started with a pilot scheme in July 2004, when officials in Xiangfan , Hubei ; Suzhou , Jiangsu ; Shanxi province and the Beijing Petroleum Machinery Factory and Guohua Power were required to report employment details of their immediate families.

Officials were asked to register the information and report whether the jobs fell within their own jurisdictions or created a conflict of interest. The scheme has grown, and more and more places have asked officials to register. In Beijing, officials were requested to report details in 2007.

The data was restricted for the use of party disciplinary organs, and only a few places - including Sanya in Hainan ; and Hunan province - have released the information to wider 'relevant circles'.

Information relating to national-level officials has never been released, though the disciplinary commission said nearly 500 officials had to address issues arising from the jobs of spouses or children, and 82 others were punished for violating regulations.

The commission also said that 24,864 officials voluntarily reported they had violated relevant regulations, with part-time or side jobs, including retired officials who became independent board members of listed companies. They had turned in cash and securities worth 160,000 yuan (HK$182,000).

Beijing Institute of Technology economics and China issues professor Hu Xingdou welcomed the efforts to clean up the party but said the effect was limited.

'It's necessary to supervise and fight corruption within the system, but it's far more effective to get the public and media involved,' he said.

The most effective way to discipline corrupt officials, Professor Hu said, would be to publish their incomes and that of their families so the public could keep an eye on them.

Currently, only ministerial-level officials or above have to report their family members' incomes.

The commission also cut overseas travel of 18,416 officials suspected of wasting public money for private purposes. Several provinces, such as Zhejiang and Jiangsu, have issued notices urging greater monitoring of overseas travel. The purpose of the travel should be official only and the itineraries strictly followed, according to a Caijing Magazine report.

A recent tour by officials of Las Vegas caused a public outcry.