Remarkable progress has been made in the efficient use of resources and in fiscal expenditure, by speeding up performance auditing over the past few years, the country's top auditor has said.
"China trimmed 30 billion yuan ($4.22 billion) of investment after performance audits of infrastructure projects and prevented wastage of 27 billion yuan," Li Jinhua, auditor-general of the China National Auditing Office (CNAO), told China Daily in a recent interview.
Li is a member of the First Session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which began yesterday in Beijing.
The authorities stepped up performance audits five years ago, after government departments first improved the use of budgets under increasingly strict auditing.
"As a system growing with the country's opening up and reform policy, auditors first focused on truthfulness and legality during the initial stages, as there were loopholes in the country's market-economy legal system then.
"But now we are ready to proceed with performance auditing," Li said.
Li said the CNAO channels 70 percent of its resources to performance auditing, while a quarter of national auditing resources were involved in the area last year, both recording 10 percentage points higher than those in 2006.
"Economic losses caused by wastage and inefficient use of resources are really a problem as serious as embezzlement and corruption," Li said.
"In this regard, auditors will evaluate the consumption of resources and results of projects, and put forward comments and recommendations for the government to deal with problems found during the auditing process," Li said.
With the country seeing an annual fiscal expenditure of 5 trillion yuan in recent years, ensuring the efficient use of public funds has become a major concern for the public.
Other than economic factors, performance auditing is also focusing on environmental protection issues, and social impact of the audited projects.
Li said that the CNAO has launched performance auditing on a number of major projects including the Qinghai-Tibetan Railway, Olympic projects, and the South-North water diversion project.
In one instance, the CNAO gave positive feedback in 2005 after auditing the environmental protection projects along the Qinghai-Tibet railway, which included the construction of 33 special passageways that allow wild animals to cross the railway.
Funds related to people's livelihood have also been the focus of the efficiency drive recently, Li said.