China targets poverty relief fund misuse as corruption on rise
China has announced a five-year campaign to crack down on corruption by officials engaged in poverty relief work, which kicked off at the beginning of 2016.
Duty crimes are the most recent area to be scrutinized by anti-graft authorities as inconsistences have been flagged in poverty relief budgets.
In the past three years, prosecutors have investigated 2,295 officials who manage poverty alleviation -- 579 in 2013, 783 in 2014, and 933 in 2015, according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) on Tuesday.
The number of officials implicated in abuse of finances for poverty relief in the past three years accounted for 1.4 percent of the total duty crimes during the same period, the SPP added.
The sharp rise of corruption in poverty alleviation is due to a high number of poverty relief projects and funds involved, as well as lax supervision, according to an unidentified official with the anti-corruption bureau under the SPP.
Investigations by the SPP show that officials at county, township and village level are most likely to be involved in duty crimes, spanning bribery, embezzlement, speculation, abuse of power and dereliction of duty.
Prosecutors will improve the investigation of misuse of funds for relocation, ecological protection, edu- cation and medical insurance, and rural living allowances.
Officials who are in charge of traffic management, hydropower and electric power infrastructure and renovation in rural areas will also be targeted in the anti-graft campaign.
Moreover, an information sharing system will be set up to ensure all poverty alleviation funds are used effectively and transparently, the SPP said, adding that officials will receive training to increase their legal awareness.
The prevention of duty crimes in poverty relief is a vital measure to poverty alleviation efforts as well as a major responsibility of prosecutors, said the SPP.
China aims to lift everyone in rural areas out of poverty and build "a moderately prosperous society" by 2020.
Meanwhile, A state-level integrated circuit base project has broken ground in central China's Hubei province, with an investment of $24 billion expected in the coming five years.
Construction started Monday in the East Lake High-tech Zone in Wuhan city, capital of Hubei. The project focuses on research and development of memory products. Monthly production capacity will reach 300,000 chips in 2020 and 1 million in 2030.
Hubei has set up a special investment fund of 50 billion yuan ($7.7 billion) to support the IC industry.