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No major misuse of stimulus funds

THE National Audit Office said it had not discovered any serious misuse so far of the 4-trillion-yuan (US$580 billion) stimulus package but vowed to step up policing to ensure economic and social stability.

"I am gratified to tell you that the government policies have been implemented well across the local departments and swift measures have been taken to ensure economic growth," Auditor General Liu Jiayi told a press conference yesterday.

State auditors focused on whether funds were used in line with industrial restructuring policies, and whether the money went to high-pollution or energy-intensive projects.

Expensive projects and those concerning environmental protection, as well as money spent to tackle public emergencies, would be closely watched, he said.

Expenditures to improve living standards, including farm subsidies and investments in drinking water projects, would be fully audited, he said.

China unveiled the 4-trillion-yuan stimulus package in November to revive the economy. Growth slowed to 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter.

Auditors will reveal extravagance, large losses and waste in stimulus spending, as well as other serious violations and crimes, Liu said.

Although no major problems were found during the audits, "there was still room to improve," he said.

He noted that money hadn't become available quickly enough in some underdeveloped areas, and overlapping construction persisted in some areas due to poor planning.

About 6 billion yuan was misused last year. Most of the money has been confiscated, according to Liu.

"We will hit hard against violations. No mercy will be shown when dealing with illegal activities," Liu said.

A total of 112 senior officials - including four ministry-level civil servants and 10 senior executives of central government-administered enterprises - have been referred to judicial or disciplinary departments after last year's audit of more than 34,000 state cadres.

Liu said his office would start a full-scale audit this year of how funds were used for the Beijing Olympic projects. Last year, selective audits were conducted on several Olympic projects and irregularities were found "in one or two," according to Liu.


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