Guangdong officials to declare assets in pilot scheme

Guangdong first region to make cadres declare what they own, but analysts doubt government's ability to make it a success

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2012, 7:49am

Guangdong's top graft-buster has vowed that the province will be the first regional government to implement an assets declaration scheme for party cadres, but pundits question whether the oversight is in place to make the scheme effective.

The announcement of the pilot scheme comes after media reports alleging that the families of Vice-President Xi Jinping and Premier Wen Jiabao own billions of yuan worth of assets. The reports drew attention to wealthy party cadres.

Guangdong's party disciplinary chief, Huang Xianyao , told the Nanfang Daily in an interview published yesterday that the province would study anti-corruption efforts in Hong Kong, Macau and foreign countries. The Caixin Magazine website said the pilot scheme will be launched in Nansha district, Guangzhou, and Shixing county, Shaoguan .

Huang said the scheme would extend to the rest of the province from 2014.

"From next year, officials who are to be promoted will be required to declare their personal and family assets, provide information about any investments and private businesses, and say whether they have kept a clean record during their political careers," he said.

Dr Peng Peng , a senior researcher with the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, said the scheme indicated Guangdong authorities' will to make asset declarations a long-term practice. "However, there is no effective supervisory mechanism to verify whether officials declare their assets honestly," he said.

Peng said a scandal exposed in Guangzhou's Panyu district in October revealed a major loophole in the current declaration system. In the scandal, a political commissar of Panyu's Urban Management Bureau was found to own 22 properties valued at more than 35.5 million yuan (HK$43.79 million), but the bureau said the official declared only the two apartments under his name.

Professor Qi Mingshan , who teaches public administration at Renmin University, said the new scheme would be mere political posturing if Guangdong authorities did not carry it out with an iron fist. "Chinese officials have decision-making and supervisory power concentrated in their own hands, and it will be very difficult for the asset declaration system to be successful due to conflicts of interests," he said.

Besides Guangdong, at least 19 governments at city, district, county or prefecture level in 10 provinces or municipalities have required officials to declare their assets since 2009, including Pudong district in Shanghai and four local governments in Jiangsu province.