Funds to help poor stolen by officials
Low-level officials found to have misappropriated funds intended for poor people in the nine latest disclosed cases have been punished, anti-corruption authorities said on Monday.
The cases were disclosed on the website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the country’s top anti-graft agency.
The move sounds a warning for local officials who may be tempted to dip into such funds and also signals the need for government departments to make a greater effort to fight this type of corruption, according to anti-graft authorities and experts in the field.
“Corruption or disciplinary violations in poverty alleviation is still frequent, harming people’s interests and affecting their income,” the website said.
From Jan 1 to Aug 29, 325 instances of officials being punished for breaking laws in their handling of aid for the poor were disclosed on the commission’s website.
Of those, 218 involved corrupt village heads, the lowest level of administrator, representing 67 percent of the total, the website said.
Among the newest cases is Liu Junxiong, the former top official of a village in Hequ county, Shanxi province, who was removed from the Party after investigators found he cheated government departments out of 150,000 yuan ($22,490).
The number of instances disclosed, from Jan 1 to Aug 29, of officials being punished for breaking laws in their handling of aid for the poor
Liu claimed that he needed the money, intended for the poorest in the village, for sheep farming and fixing up a house, but the investigators found he never kept sheep and did not use the money for maintenance, the website said. It did not disclose how the money was used.
“Village officials are easier to corrupt, because most of them are involved in directly managing investment projects or money,” said Du Zhizhou, a professor and deputy director of the Center for Integrity Research and Education at Beihang University.
Poverty relief funds for housing reconstruction have been the biggest single target of misappropriation of money and other disciplinary violations, the authority said.
Eighty-six of the cases disclosed involved illegal use of such funds.
Du said almost every villager badly needs money for such repairs, and applying for the funds is not difficult, “which is why this area has been a breeding ground for graft.”
Some officials have used loopholes in fund applications, according to Song Wei, deputy director of the Center for Anti-Corruption Studies at the University of Science and Technology in Beijing, Legal Daily reported.
Song suggested government departments simplify the procedures in a bid to curtail officials’ opportunities to steal, the report added.
The Supreme People’s Procuratorate disclosed that it has investigated and filed cases against 658 people accused of corruption involving programs to help the poor from January to May. That’s up 53.7 percent year-on-year.