The Ministry of Supervision said Wednesday it dug out 8,539 cases last year in which schools illegally charged fees totaling 3.0 billion yuan (US$364 million).
The ministry said approximately 630 million yuan (US$76 million) has been returned since it launched joint inspections with the Ministry of Education in 12 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities last year.
After the inspection, 2,824 illegal fees set by schools and local education administrations were canceled and 1,316 were reduced, the ministry said.
Last year, China standardized tuition and fees charged by primary and middle schools in 592 poor counties, reducing them by 1.7 billion yuan (US$20.5 million).
The ministry also reported that Chinese hospitals paid 41.8 billion yuan (US$5 billion) for medicines after they started to buy them through public bidding last year.
The new method for hospitals to purchase medicines has led to a price drop and curbed malpractice between hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, the ministry said.
China also cut more than 64.7 billion yuan (US$7.8 billion) in illegal charges imposed on farmers last year by taxation reform and strict inspections.
(Xinhua News Agency April 1, 2004)