Falsifying of economic data by officials only serves themselves
to the provincial legislature, Chen Qiufa, governor of Northeast China’s Liaoning province, admitted that officials of cities in his province fabricated economic data and exaggerated the GDP growth rate from 2011 to 2014. It is good for a governor to admit mistakes, but will the officials that fabricated the data pay for their misdeeds? Beijing News comments:
These Liaoning officials were rather “creative” with the economic data. In Youyan county alone, officials “added” 847 million yuan ($123.5 million) to their 2013 financial income, which is 127 percent higher than the true figure that year. Many Liaoning cities have reportedly committed similar deeds.
A central inspection team noticed what was going on in 2014 and issued a warning. Now, almost three years later, the Liaoning governor finally admitted the facts. Chen did not mention how to solve the problem, but by admitting it he has already made a giant step forward compared with the past.
Liaoning may not be alone in finding officials falsifying data. A survey shows that in 2012, the reported GDP of all the provinces and municipalities combined was higher than the national GDP. Liaoning is one of the provinces that exaggerated its data.
By fabricating the data, the Liaoning officials have hurt the interests of both local residents and the central government. For the former, false GDP growth data means they might be mistaken as being “rich” and lose the opportunity of getting help from
the State; for the latter, they have been presented with a false picture of the local economic situation, which hinders efforts to optimize the country’s economic structure and accelerate reform.
The cause of officials falsifying economic data is simple: Their performance evaluations, even promotions, depend on it. GDP growth data is one of the most important factors that decide whether an official will be promoted.
Therefore, the root solution to this problem lies in reforming the current performance evaluation system of local officials. For years, the central government has been evaluating officials’ performance in a more comprehensive way, but the emphasis must be their efforts to optimize the economic structure.
More important, the officials that fabricated the economic data should get their deserved legal and disciplinary penalties, so that they and others do not dare to commit similar misdeeds in the future. It is good that the Liaoning governor admitted what happened, now it is time to take action.