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Wen urges tough hand on graft

CHINA said yesterday it will ban the construction of new government office complexes through 2010 and urged a tougher hand against corrupt officials.

Premier Wen Jiabao urged stronger preventive measures and stronger punishment against graft, saying, "China faces the toughest year in its economic development since the turn of the century."

Local governments and departments should step up the campaign to combat corruption, regulate the use of executive power, tackle persistent problems that harm the public interest and accelerate construction of a system to prevent and punish corruption to provide a solid guarantee for reform, development and stability, the premier told a conference on clean governance yesterday.

"In the past year, various departments under the State Council and local governments at all levels made marked achievements in supervising administration power and promoting the building of clean government and the work against corruption," Wen said.

"But corruption still occurred continually in some fields," Wen said. "Some officials' slack behavior severely damaged the government's image and relations between officials and the public."

He urged closer scrutiny of projects that were closely related to people's livelihoods such as water conservation, railroads, other forms of transportation and urban construction.

Individuals and groups should be severely punished for making defective or harmful farm products or imposing unreasonable charges on farmers, students or patients, Wen said.

In addition, the premier called for strict supervision of officials' use of power to ensure they do not use public investment projects for their personal benefit.

Wen said any construction of new government buildings, training centers and government hotels were banned between now and the end of 2010.

"The use of public cars and public funds for business trips aboard and reception fees should be strictly regulated," he said.

Reception expenditures this year should be reduced by 10 percent over 2008, car purchase and maintenance fees should be cut by 15 percent, and expenditures for business trips abroad reduced by 20 percent based on the average amount over the past three years.


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