In­spec­tions find mis­use of funds for fight­ing pol­lu­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHENG JINRAN zhengjin­ran@ chi­

China has been con­duct­ing high-level pro­vin­cial in­spec­tions and ex­pos­ing the mis­use of spe­cial fund­ing in­tended to sup­port the fight against air pol­lu­tion.

In the on­go­ing cen­tral in­spec­tions in seven pro­vin­cial-level re­gions, more than 1,100 of­fi­cials have been sum­moned to talk about their per­for­mances in en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, with 687 were held ac­count­able, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment re­leased by the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion on Tues­day.

The in­spec­tion teams, headed by min­is­te­rial-level of­fi­cials, have ex­posed and trans­ferred 5,462 cases to the gov­ern­ments they in­spected, and 112 peo­ple were de­tained, the state­ment said.

To­tal fines from pol­luters have grown to 66 mil­lion yuan ($10 mil­lion), of which Guang­dong prov­ince has been fined the most out of the re­gions, which also in­clude Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Chongqing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, and the prov­inces of Hubei, Shaanxi and Gansu.

In ad­di­tion, 256 of­fi­cials were held ac­count­able due to their poor per­for­mance in en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion in Shaanxi, the most out of the in­spected prov­ince, it said.

In­spec­tors will con­duct field in­ves­ti­ga­tions at the city level to push govern­ment of­fi­cials to im­prove their ef­forts to re­duce pol­lu­tion, the min­istry said.

In ad­di­tion to the month­long in­spec­tions tar­get­ing of­fi­cials, the cen­tral govern­ment also strength­ened the mon­i­tor­ing of their use of spe­cial funds for air pol­lu­tion con­trol.

The cen­tral govern­ment al­lo­cated 25.4 bil­lion yuan to as­sist some prov­inces in re­duc­ing air pol­lu­tion from 2013 to 2015.

The Min­istry of Fi­nance re­viewed the use of th­ese spe­cial funds in nine ma­jor prov­inces and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in­clud­ing Bei­jing, Tian­jin, He­bei and He­nan, which re­ceived 94 per­cent of the to­tal funds, and found se­vere vi­o­la­tions such as us­ing the funds to ren­o­vate of­fi­cial build­ings.

For ex­am­ple, more than 2.57 mil­lion yuan was used in eight coun­ties in An­hui prov­ince for cater­ing, build­ing ren­o­va­tions and the pur­chase of equip­ment, none of which was re­lated to air pol­lu­tion con­trol, the min­istry said.

The en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion bureau in Tian­jin used 4.25 mil­lion yuan to cover the ex­penses of of­fi­cials’ travel and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in the process of phas­ing out old ve­hi­cles in 2015.

“The spe­cial funds are not al­lowed to be used for other purposes. In gen­eral, the funds have been used to fi­nance the gov­ern­ments’ ef­forts in air pol­lu­tion con­trol,” Chen Shao­qiang, a re­searcher at the Min­istry of Fi­nance’s Re­search In­sti­tute for Fis­cal Science, said on Tues­day.

To solve the ex­posed prob­lems, the min­istry should strengthen man­age­ment and con­duct reg­u­lar in­spec­tions, Chen sug­gested.

The min­istry will re­trieve the mis­used funds and im­prove the man­age­ment of spe­cial funds, the state­ment said.

An ice sport com­pe­ti­tion for dis­abled peo­ple is held in Xuan­hua, He­bei prov­ince, on Tues­day. A to­tal of 100 dis­abled peo­ple par­tic­i­pated in sev­eral com­pe­ti­tions. The event aimed to pro­mote the pop­u­lar­ity of ice sports among dis­abled peo­ple.

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