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January 4, 2010

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Inefficiency revealed in earthquake crisis work

STATE auditors have discovered fiscal and efficiency anomalies and referred alerts to disciplinary and judicial departments in the rebuilding aftermath of the 2008 May 12 earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Two people have been arrested and are awaiting trial, while another 11 have been detained pending criminal investigations.

The National Audit Office's branch in Chengdu, Sichuan's capital, has set up 17 task forces in the past year to investigate 195 reconstruction projects in seven of the worst-hit areas.

The teams, which encompassed provincial government agencies, found 15 major anomalies in planning, fund raising and allocation and project management, Chongqing Morning Post reported yesterday.

The Chengdu office has sent 13 reports and 25 alerts to local governments or provincial departments.

Low budgetary efficiency, shortages of funds and plans delayed for further modifications or improvements were among the major problems pinpointed in inquiries that raised concerns at the highest level - the State Council, or China's Cabinet, the newspaper report said.

A quarter of China's 4 trillion yuan (US$586 billion) economic stimulus package went to rebuilding after the earthquake, according to an outline by the central government released early last year.

The investment was mainly allocated for reconstruction of infrastructure, housing and in the health and education sectors.

By the end of last September, reconstruction of 1.24 million permanent rural residences, about 97 percent of the total number of houses in need of rebuilding, had been completed.

Almost 3,000 schools are under reconstruction, about 87 percent of the total required.

An estimated 97.6 percent of damaged enterprises with annual prime operating revenue above 5 million yuan have resumed production.

According to Liu Jiayi, China's chief auditor, the Shanghai-Beijing high-speed railway and the second phase of the west-east gas pipeline also came under scrutiny.

Risks assessed

Attention was paid to local government debt, the management of financial institutions, the security of state-owned assets and risks for medium and small enterprises, investment on projects for people's well-being and the protection of natural resources and the environment.

State auditors found 234.7 billion yuan in public funds misused nationwide between January and November.

Judicial and disciplinary officials were told of 863 alerts and suspected cases that involved 1,068 people, Liu said last week at an overview conference in Beijing.


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