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Premier Takes Hard Line on “Dirty Money”

Premier Zhu Rongji re-energized China's anti-corruption campaign yesterday with a zero tolerance and vowed to crack down on fraudulent accounting and fiscal irregularities among administrative institutions.

Addressing a national working conference on graft busting, Zhu called for accelerated reform of fiscal budget management, calling for specialized management of fiscal revenues outside the annual budget which flows into government offices.

Lack of transparency and supervision on these accounts has led to a "dirty money" inflow as profit-seeking business people seek to bribe officials in return for advantageous contracts or privileges. He required administrative and judicial departments to return all revenues outside their annual budget to State coffers for specialized management.

Other departments retaining the revenues should open their accounts to keep the records transparent, he said. "We need to enhance financial transparency within the government, nipping corruption in the bud," said Zhu.

The stern words were in tune with the central government's ongoing campaign to eradicate graft and corruption of all forms within the bureaucracy.

High-level officials indulging in dodgy deals and irregularities have been exposed in the past two years. Among them were former Jiangxi Deputy Governor Hu Changqing and National People's Congress Standing Committee Vice-Chairman Cheng Kejie. Cheng was the highest-ranking official executed since 1949.

Prosecutors also investigated the Xiamen smuggling case in Fujian Province, said to be the most notorious smuggling scandal in Chinese history. Major culprits including several senior officials were executed. While acknowledging the two-year crackdown effort, Zhu said the battle was far from being over.

"Problems of officials trading power for kickbacks, abusing power for personal gains and carried away with bribes are still going up," said Zhu.

"We need a persistent effort to maintain a clean government so that it can serve the people's best interests."

(China Daily February 21, 2002)

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