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Military Auditors to Scrutinize More Top Brass
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Officers in China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) are learning to watch every penny they spend as the leadership demands better accounting and value for their money.

General Liao Xilong, chief of the PLA General Logistics Department and a member of the Central Military Commission who also leads the Military Audit Office, says officers are shouldering more financial responsibility as the PLA's modernization and combat readiness improves.

"The implication is that auditing is becoming increasingly important," Liao said.

Statistics from the PLA auditing office show 13,594 military officers with financial responsibilities have been inspected over the past decade. Seventy two percent, or 9,828 officers, have been audited since the start of the tenth five-year period (2001-2005). It is not clear how much money has been improperly used.

The PLA plans to inspect at least 4,000 officers above regiment level by 2010, including at least 100 generals.

"Officers at middle and senior levels are the backbone of the PLA and they play a crucial role in policy implementation. Whether or not officers with financial duties can manage military budgets to improve combat effectiveness is a significant issue we can't afford to ignore," Liao stated.

The PLA had a special Military Audit Office installed in 1985. It originally targeted only military entities involved in managing equipment and materials as well as engineering construction costs.

It was only after 1988 when the military force in Heilongjiang took the lead in scrutinizing individuals that the practice became routine throughout the armed forces.

Liao said that auditors would give priority to scrutinizing leaders whose departments were responsible for projects significant to the PLA's combat effectiveness.

"Auditors must monitor the full process of such projects from budgeting to expenditure and evaluate project effectiveness upon accomplishment," he said.

Other targets include military officers with authority in budgeting, procurement and engineering construction. Those who have triggered complaints among lower ranks or have been reported for malpractice will also be examined.

"Basically, our rule is that auditing must precede the promotion or retirement of all individuals with financial responsibilities," Liao stated.

"Audits of individuals have led to greater budgetary awareness, while discouraging transgressions and corruption from the top down," he added.

The government has budgeted 350.9 billion Yuan (US$48.79 billion) on military expenditures this year.

The money is allocated toward the improvement of living conditions and accommodation of the rank-and-file, training on new equipment and special technologies, intensified training of specialist units, and also to upgrade armaments and other equipment.

"Military auditing is far from locking the stable door after the horse has bolted," Liao said. "Its goal is to rectify problems, optimize management and establish a long-term mechanism for modernizing the PLA so it can use less to achieve more."

The general said auditing officers should be a routine job jointly carried out by the audit, discipline and finance departments. The audit results should also provide references regarding promotions.

"For those who excel in their daily management, auditing departments should propose commendations; for those who are misunderstood or unfairly treated, auditing departments can straighten out problems and reveal the facts."

"Those who have flouted laws and regulations must be dealt with using military discipline and regulations," Liao said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 20, 2007)

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