China recovers millions in misused poverty funds
Authorities recoup money worth US$112 million after string of investigations that have seen nearly 450 people charged with offences
Chinese authorities have recouped 730 million yuan (US$112 million) in misappropriated funds as part of an investigation into the country’s national poverty-reduction scheme, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.
Nearly 450 people have been charged for offences relating to the misused funds in an inspection of 28 provinces, said Xinhua, citing the Ministry of Finance and the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development.
The report gave no details on how the funds were misused.
China’s government has pledged to wipe out poverty by 2020, targeting 70 million people living below the poverty line, but researchers and social workers say finding a lasting solution will take much longer.
China has spent over 196 billion yuan on poverty relief over the past four years, according to Xinhua.
Earlier this month, Hu Zejun, the head of the National Audit Office, said that the country has punished a total of 970 people for misusing the funds under the same programme. It was not clear whether that number included the 450 people charged.
Hu said 101,800 people had been removed from the government list of registered poor while another 95,000 had been added.
Beijing committed 86 billion yuan to poverty alleviation in 2017 under the national programme, most of which is used for infrastructure projects, as well as subsidies for education and health care.
President Xi Jinping made the campaign one of his signature policy issues after pledging in 2015 that China would lift the 70 million people out of poverty by 2020.
Xi told the party congress in October that fighting poverty is crucial for China to become a moderately prosperous society.
He also pledged to create more jobs for college graduates and migrant workers.
A Central Economic Work Conference held in December said poverty alleviation, along with containing financial risk and environment protection, were the three main priorities for the authorities.