China's local governments silent on use of 16.5 billion yuan in one-child policy fines
Reuters in Beijing
China’s local governments have failed to account for the use of more than 16.5 billion yuan (HK$20.91 billion) in fines paid by families flouting strict family planning rules, a lawyer who has joined the call for public disclosure said on Wednesday.
Wu Youshui, based in the eastern province of Zhejiang, said he asked for information about fines imposed last year because he believed the system “faced unquestioned abuse of power and corruption”.
There has been growing public anger about the one-child policy, introduced in the late 1970s to prevent population growth spiralling out of control. The policy covers 63 per cent of China, though family planning rules have been loosened over the years to allow some couples to have a second child.
“Not even one province can provide information about using and auditing the fines,” said Wu. He said he had collected replies from China’s 31 local governments by Tuesday.
The “social support fee” – the fine – is meant to go towards the government budget to compensate for resources and public services the child would use.
“As far as I can tell, no county in China uses the fines that way,” Wu said. “A lot of the money is given back to the local family planning commission and rewarded to officials who collected it.”
Officials at the National Health and Family Planning Commission could not be reached for comment.
On Sunday, a group of 14 lawyers wrote an open letter to the National Audit Office asking whether the family planning fines were audited.
The office said in a statement on its website that it could not give details as it hasn’t “organised comprehensive auditing in recent years”.