Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign

Mainland authorities to conduct audit of local government land sales

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 August, 2014, 10:58am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 September, 2014, 6:43pm

The mainland kicked off a special audit of local governments’ land auctions on Monday in a move to fight corruption and standardise the land auction process, The Economic Observer, a state-backed newspaper, reported.

The campaign would be led by the State Council, China’s cabinet, and the scope of the checks would extend from the top to the county level, it said. The audit’s targets would include the proceeds of land sales between 2008 and last year, as well as the enforcement of laws related to land expropriation, reserves and supply and the protection of cultivated land in the past five years.

The audit report is expected to be delivered in two months.

The sale of leasehold land use rights for development is a key source of local government revenue on the mainland. The newspaper said the mainland-wide audit would be the first of its kind and could expose a number of cases of corruption.

“A few [officials] could leave their current positions following the auditing,” the paper cited unnamed sources as saying, adding that it would reveal abuse of power and rent seeking.

The audit would focus on key areas in the land auction system that were fertile breeding grounds for corruption, it said. For example, it would look at whether city land bureaus had approved land development rights illegally and also check whether officials had changed development restrictions, such as plot ratios, to make land more attractive to developers.

The newspaper said the audit would also focus on local government’s use of the proceeds from land sales, mainly involving the departments of land and resources and housing and urban-rural redevelopment, and city land planning and finance bureaus.

Local government revenue from land sales hit a record 3.9 trillion yuan (HK$4.91 trillion) last year.