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No major misuse of quake relief funds
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Relief funds and supplies for survivors of last May's earthquake have by and large been well-managed and spent, the National Audit Office (NAO) has said.

But a number of minor issues were of concern, according to the report released on its website on New Year's Eve - the fourth since the disaster, which killed about 70,000.

These include inaccurate reports of the quake's impact, irregular allocation, embezzlement or otherwise improper management of relief money and goods, as well as purchases of overpriced relief materials, the NAO report said.

The report outlined some of the abuses:

Both the tourism and transport bureaus of Sichuan's Chongzhou city reported the collapse of a 47-km-long road in their respective sectors. The data overlap inflated the city's gross quake loss to 1.234 billion yuan ($180 million) more than the actual figure.

About 40 percent of the 460 million yuan in relief funds allocated by the quake-ravaged Shaanxi's provincial finance department were still being held at the city and county level by the end of September.

The rescue and relief headquarters and the public security bureau of Sichuan's Pengzhou city kept 3.2 million yuan worth of donated mobile phone cards for themselves.

Maoxian county's health bureau used 20,200 yuan of local donations meant for quake victims for rewarding "model individuals and groups".

All such abuses have been rectified, the report said

The NAO report was based on a nationwide audit between May 14 and end-November of 18 central government departments, close to 1,300 provincial, 5,400 municipal and 25,000 county-level departments as well as 9,526 villages in Sichuan, Shaanxi, Gansu and Yunnan provinces and Chongqing municipality.

The office also examined nearly 2,000 complaints it received until November. The NAO referred 168 of these cases to local audit authorities, eight to local governments and 162 people to judicial authorities or the Party's disciplinary supervision department.

"Those held responsible have been penalized and/or have been subjected to administrative sanctions and disciplinary measures by the Party," the report said.

About 59.273 billion yuan has been received in donations for earthquake survivors by governments, companies, groups and individuals from home and abroad.

But across the nation, questions have been raised as to how exactly the funds have been, or are being, spent.

Anti-corruption officials and nearly 10,000 auditors have worked in quake-hit areas, trying to respond to public concerns by monitoring relief funds and materials through early intervention.

Through their efforts, earlier NAO reports discovered "small cases" of profiteering that, in comparison, proved much bigger to those in the latest report.

These ranged from an accountant working at a town civil affairs office in eastern Shandong province, who embezzled about 13,300 yuan in donations, to a town clinic in Sichuan's Dujiangyan city that misappropriated 226,800 yuan worth of drugs.

The NAO said its next project is auditing reconstruction efforts in quake zones.

(China Daily January 3, 2009)

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