The head of the government in the earthquake-stricken city of Ya’an in Sichuan province has promised the Hong Kong government its HK$100-million disaster relief fund would not be misused.
“The relief fund would be mainly used in purchasing medical and sanitation related equipment, [with the] Hong Kong government’s consent in advance,” Xu Mengjia, the party secretary in Ya’an was cited as saying on Wednesday.
“The HK$100-million donation shows Hong Kong people care for the city. There are strict regulations on how it will be used.” Xu said as he tried to allay fears the fund could end up in corrupt officials’ pockets, Southern Metropolis Daily reported.
His remarks, at the Western China International Fair – a five-day annual event held in the provincial capital Chengdu, were made in response to questions Hong Kong Legislative Councillors asked last week concerning how the fund would be allocated, the report said.
The authorities in Ya’an did not answer enquires made by the South China Morning Post on Thursday morning.
Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor last week assured Legco members the administration was closely monitoring the fund through its commerce office in Chengdu.
Lam said she had urged the Sichuan provincial government to submit a fund allocation assessment and she underlined the government’s assertion it would reclaim the full amount if misuse were suspected.
Legco’s finance committee had already laboured over approval of the HK$100 donation in early May, shortly after the earthquake hit. The proposal passed in a 37-23 vote after days of fierce debate and amid opposition from pan-democratic lawmakers, who suggested donating the fund directly to non-government organisations.
In May 2012, the Hong Kong government withdrew HK$2 million designated to rebuild a heavily-damaged school in Mianyang, Sichuan after it found the local authority had changed the reconstruction plan without its approval.
The 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Ya’an on April 20, leading to around 190 deaths and economic losses of over 85 billion yuan. Hong Kong and Macau each generated funds equal to about HK$100 million for disaster relief.