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December 27, 2013

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Confusion over cash raised from birth fines

There’s confusion over how much money the southern province of Guangdong got last year from fines for violating the one-child policy.

Figures published by its finance department and the health authority show a disparity of around 1.1 billion yuan (US$181million).

In a letter to Han Zhipeng, a political adviser of provincial capital Guangzhou, the finance department said yesterday that 2.613 billion yuan had been raised. However, earlier this month, Guangdong Health and Family Planning Commission said they only levied fines of 1.456 billion yuan.

Yesterday, the finance department said its officials had included more cases and thus its number was bigger, according to Legal Evening News.

The health and family planning commission said it was checking the data.

Following different standards, applying different methods and investigating different areas are usually the three major reasons why authorities produce different statistics, Ye Qing, deputy director of the statistics bureau in central Hubei Province.

Ye suspected the Guangdong health and family planning authority might not have reported fines from some counties or cities while the finance department counted every place in Guangdong, the newspaper reported.

Ye suggested audit authorities begin a thorough check and make such checks routine. “It’s time to have the accounts clear,” Ye said.

Han told the New Express Daily that the Guangdong audit department had admitted not having looked into the relevant accounts in recent years, claiming the task was too hard to handle.

The National Audit Office hadn’t launched a nationwide investigation either.

Due to lack of regulations, authorities shirk their responsibility by not supervising the money collected through the extra-birth fines, Xinhua news agency said.

Besides supervision loopholes, each area has different standards because authorities have the right to decide how much to fine. And in most cases, family planning officials can seek lower fines from poor families or their acquaintances. Sometimes, however, this leads to officials abusing their powers by extracting excessive fines and then siphoning off national assets for personal use, Xinhua said.



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