State Council on high alert over misuse of social security net by corrupt officials Beijing has promised tighter controls and stiffer punishment for abuse of social security funds after a nationwide audit spurred by the Shanghai pension funds scandal uncovered widespread and serious abuses. Premier Wen Jiabao chaired a State Council meeting yesterday which heard audit reports on the pension, health-care and unemployment funds, and said management of the social security net was 'an important mission for the central government', Xinhua said, quoting a council statement. Describing social security funds as a 'high-voltage power line', the State Council indicated the government was on high alert to the implications of official corruption fuelled by the misuse of the funds. The audit of pension, unemployment and health-insurance funds in all provinces and regions except Tibet in September found a wide range of management problems, Xinhua said, without giving specific examples. 'In some places, government policies are not being strictly implemented, management is not standardised, and there are even problems of embezzlement and misappropriation of funds,' the statement said. 'Some problems are quite serious and require high-level attention.' The audit was prompted by the pension funds scandal in Shanghai two months ago that led to the sacking and investigation of the city's Communist Party boss, Chen Liangyu . The government has sent more than 100 investigators to Shanghai after the city's 3.2 billion yuan pension fund was siphoned off for illicit loans and investments. The Shanghai scandal has fuelled widespread outrage at rampant official corruption, raising concerns for the government, which is concerned about social stability. A sound social welfare system is an important part of building a 'harmonious society' - the national motto under the leadership of President Hu Jintao, which stresses maintaining social order by cracking down on corruption and addressing the growing gap between rich and poor. 'The social welfare system is the society's safety net and stabiliser,' the statement said. The meeting called for illegal conduct concerning the funds to be 'thoroughly investigated' and for those involved to be 'tracked down and dealt with severely'. The problems that had been exposed by the audit had to be rectified 'in earnest', with misused funds returned immediately. Closer co-operation between relevant agencies was urged. The meeting also called for a rigorous checks-and-balance mechanism and greater transparency in the management of social security funds.