September 10, 2008

China Penalizes Nearly 200 for Quake Discipline Violations

Text of report in English by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)

[Xinhua: "Almost 200 Penalized for Discipline Violations in China Quake Relief"]

BEIJING, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) - A total of 186 people had incurred party disciplinary measures or administrative penalties as of Aug. 29 for discipline violations in relief work after the May 12 earthquake in southwest China, Wednesday's People's Daily reported.

Sixteen were officials at or above the county level and 20 have been stripped of their posts, the newspaper quoted Ma Wen, Minister of Supervision, as saying. The newspaper didn't say what the violations were.

Senior Chinese officials have called for tighter supervision of quake relief work and warned repeatedly that corruption, embezzlement or misuse of relief resources would incur severe punishment.

Ma, also deputy secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Chinese Communist Party, said the commission had dispatched five teams of inspectors to Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces, government departments and social organizations to make sure that relief funds, food, donations and subsidies were used properly.

Complaint hotlines and mail boxes have been set up in the quake zone and the Chinese public were encouraged to report violations and misconduct involving relief work.

Ma said as of Aug. 29, discipline and supervision authorities at all levels had received 15,746 complaints and 10,151 had been investigated and concluded.

China's National Audit Office (NAO) also joined the supervision efforts by sending more than 10,000 auditors to affected areas and departments.

The auditors have scrutinized almost 20,000 departments and organizations, 2,600 towns and 5,700 villages and visited 45,000 quake-affected families, the newspaper quoted chief auditor Liu Jiayi as saying.

The NAO announced in early August that no serious violations were found in the management of relief funds and supplies for survivors of the earthquake.

However, problems did exist. Some donations were misused, while others were not being allocated or had extra fees attached, the NAO said in a statement.

For example, in Caojiagou Village in northwestern Shaanxi Province, 85 households were charged a total of 187,000 yuan (27,339 US dollars) in so-called "construction planning fees" or "reconstruction guarantee money".

The NAO found 36 such violations and all 21 people responsible had been disciplined by the party or had administrative punishments, according to the NAO.

The magnitude-8.0 earthquake struck Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province, on May 12. It is feared that once the fate of all those listed as missing is clarified, the death toll will top 87,000.

The estimated losses from the quake are estimated at 845.1 billion yuan (121 billion US dollars).

The central and local governments have allocated a combined 67.47 billion yuan for quake relief. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, domestic and foreign donations had reached 59.25 billion yuan in cash and goods by Aug. 4. Of this, 22.88 billion yuan had been forwarded to quake-hit areas.

Originally published by Xinhua news agency, Beijing, in English 0559 10 Sep 08.

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