Lack of supervision has led to huge waste by some government officials, says a signed article in China Youth Daily. An excerpt follows:
A recent survey conducted by the paper's social research center put high government waste and administrative costs in the spotlight. Over 90 percent of the 3,602 surveyed say that government wastefulness is more serious than that of civilians.
In the market environment, civilians try to minimize costs when they spend their own money. In contrast, the government is spending taxpayers' money, which leads to a natural and institutional tendency to waste.
That is why Western countries design systems to prevent government waste. A truly resource-saving government will be built only when financial restrictions and supervision by taxpayers are in place.
The lack of supervision is the institutional reason for government waste. Another reason may be officials' retaliation against anti-corruption efforts.
When the central government increases its fight against corruption, some officials get material and spiritual satisfaction by wasting public money. As they cannot put public money into their own pockets, they choose to waste the money.
Such revenge shows our anti-corruption standards are too low. Wasting public money has not been defined as corruption but only malpractice. And the punishment is light. Thus officials lack a sense of shame about wasting public money.
There should be stricter definitions of corruption. Any wasting of public money should be regarded as corruption.
Of course the basic and most effective measure to stop waste should be supervision by taxpayers. The anti-corruption act driven by administrative power still cannot compete with taxpayers' supervision on the spending of their own money.
(China Daily June 15, 2007)