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Anti-corruption campaign shows broad power of NDRC officials

Updated: 2014-10-09 09:38
(China Daily)

The central government's ongoing crackdown on corruption has hit hardest against the National Development and Reform Commission, with 19 officials from the State agency placed under investigation on suspicion of bribery from May 2013 to September 2014.

The recent flurry of corruption cases offers a glimpse into the power that NDRC officials wield. As the nation's top economic planner, the department sets broad economic policies, approves major investments, mergers and acquisitions, and has the authority to influence commodity prices.

Among the most recent NDRC officials detained on suspicion of bribery, five are from the commission's pricing department.

Liu Zhenqiu, director of the commission's pricing department, and two deputy directors were detained in September. Guo Jianying, an inspector responsible for prices in the pharmaceutical industry, is currently under investigation for allegedly taking bribes to help pharmaceutical firms secure approvals for their drugs.

According to current regulations on drug prices, pharmaceutical companies can set prices for new drugs and ask the commission to approve them.

Yan Jirong, a professor at Peking University's School of Government, said the NDRC is particularly prone to corruption because the department possesses a great deal of control over the operations of the country's economy and supervision of various industries.

Because NDRC officials have the power to decide the result of a major project, a company's development model or a city's future plans, opportunities for bribery open up, he said.

The NDRC's energy department has also been plagued by corruption scandals. After Liu Tienan, deputy head of the NDRC and head of the National Energy Administration, was brought to trial in late September, the administration's deputy director Xu Yongsheng and two other officials in charge of the electricity industry were also placed under investigation.

Yan said the inefficient supervision of government departments is creating opportunities for corruption. He suggested making the NDRC's planning processes transparent to the public.

Zhang Yi contributed to this story.

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