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Auditors tighten grip on govt spending

Updated: 2014-01-11 03:16
By Zhao Lei ( China Daily)

From July to the end of October, auditors saved nearly 40 billion yuan ($6.6 billion) in public funds that were prone to waste or embezzlement, the National Audit Office said on Friday.

By the end of October, government departments, publicly funded organizations and State-owned enterprises with irregular fiscal operations had corrected misconduct involving about 358 billion yuan, the office said in a statement published on its website.

The office submitted its annual audit report of government departments' fiscal performance in 2012 to top lawmakers in June.

Lawmakers reviewed the report and ordered government agencies and other organizations mentioned in it to correct their misconduct. They also demanded that the National Audit Office report the results of the corrections to them.

Since then, the irregular expropriation or use of land that concerned nearly 35,000 hectares had been recovered, the office said, adding that auditors retrieved 38.9 billion yuan.

Auditors also transferred 175 clues indicating criminal activity to judicial authorities, leading to 1,204 people being disciplined or convicted.

Wu Hui, an associate professor of governance at the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said that publishing the results of government departments and State-controlled institutes' self-corrections in fund management shows that the leadership is determined to deepen reforms by tightening the grip on government expenditure.

"The public is very concerned about what those government bodies and State-owned enterprises would do after their misconduct was exposed," Wu said.

"As far as I know, in the past, some of them just made promises that they would rectify the problems and then did nothing. But they kept a low profile until the public and media forgot their behavior or turned their attention to other news."

However, they can no longer play this trick because audit agencies have become more adept at handling misconduct over the past several years, and will "entwine" the exposed organizations until they correct all problems, he said.

In addition, the public has become sensitive to government spending and revenue after President Xi Jinping launched the latest crackdown on official extravagance and corruption last year, impelling government departments to tighten their internal supervision of funds, he added.

On Thursday, the State Council released a statement saying that Premier Li Keqiang has urged audit authorities to improve supervision over the use of public money, such as cash earmarked for enhancing people's livelihoods.

The country will severely punish violations including misappropriation and embezzlement of public funds, Li told audit authorities just before a nationwide audit work conference.

"The country should make funds reserved for people's livelihood a red line that no one can cross and no one would dare to cross," Li was quoted as saying.