Gra­nary em­bez­zlers

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

IT IS BE­YOND IMAG­I­NA­TION MORE THAN 100 of­fi­cials and staff are un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for al­legedly em­bez­zling pub­lic money af­ter a probe into the He­nan branch of the China Grain Re­serve Cor­po­ra­tion.

The probe was launched af­ter the branch’s head fled to the United States last year with money he’d em­bez­zled.

The He­nan branch of the grain re­serve re­ported to the higher au­thor­i­ties that they had bought a cer­tain amount of fresh grain to keep in re­serve and sold the grain they had in stor­age. They then re­ceived sub­si­dies from the State cof­fers. How­ever, they nei­ther bought nor sold any grain, and just pock­eted the sub­si­dies them­selves. It was re­ported that the to­tal amount of grain they han­dled was 1.4 bil­lion kilo­grams, and the money they pock­eted was more than 700 mil­lion yuan ($113.5 mil­lion).

Even more im­por­tant than met­ing out to th­ese bad ap­ples the pun­ish­ments they de­serve is find­ing out how such a large num­ber of peo­ple could cheat the State out of so much pub­lic money for so many years with­out be­ing dis­cov­ered.

There seems to be no su­per­vi­sion at all over what goes on in the coun­try’s gra­naries. The China Grain Re­serve Cor­po­ra­tion needs to make clear if all its branches are man­aged in the same way as its He­nan branch.

A thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion needs to be con­ducted to de­ter­mine if sim­i­lar il­le­gal prac­tices are tak­ing place in any of its other branches.

This is not just a case of an abuse of power. It is a mat­ter of food se­cu­rity.

In ad­di­tion to the loss of pub­lic money, the prac­tice in the China Grain Re­serve’s He­nan branch will likely re­sult in grain be­ing stored for too long, which will lead to it go­ing bad, or not enough grain be­ing held in re­serve, which would mean both the cen­tral and lo­cal gov­ern­ments would not have enough grain in case of famine or other nat­u­ral disas­ter.

It is not un­usual for the gra­nary sys­tem of such a large coun­try as China to have some bad ap­ples among its staff. But it would in­deed be un­usual to dis­cover that a provin­cial gra­nary alone had har­bored such a large num­ber of em­bez­zlers.

This needs to be ad­dressed as quickly as pos­si­ble.

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