A new auditing method is being used to ensure the money donated to the Sichuan earthquake relief fund does not go astray, a senior audit official said on Friday.
Governments, companies and individuals from around the world have donated more than 55 billion yuan ($8 billion) to help the people of Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces rebuild their lives and communities.
But exactly how these huge sums are spent has been a matter of concern for people across the country.
To help ease those fears, on Friday, Wang Zhongxin, director of the National Audit Office's department of social security, conducted a two-hour interview via the government's website, www.gov.cn.
"The auditing system we are using this time is known as the 'whole process follow-up'," Wang said.
"Its distinguishing feature is that it uses early intervention to ensure all monies are fully tracked and accounted for."
More than 3,000 auditors are working in quake-hit areas. In the past, auditing was carried out only after funds had been allocated, he said.
"We know from past experience that corruption can occur in the process of using the funds meant for disaster relief," Wang said.
But with this new method we can detect wrongdoings immediately, he said.
"And once a problem is discovered, we can correct it," he said.
When asked if the new method will be adopted as standard practice after the disaster relief work has ended, Wang said it "should be" used for auditing all funds meant for public use.
"It would be very helpful in protecting the interests of ordinary people, and could also help improve the government's image," he said.
One of the focuses for the ongoing auditing task is monitoring the huge sums of money donated by the public to large organizations and government bodies, such as the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Red Cross Society of China, he said.
But the auditing team will monitor fund use across the country, in towns, villages and even individual cases, he said.
"Our auditors will follow the money wherever it goes," Wang said.
(China Daily July 5, 2008)