BEIJING - Local officials misspent almost $700 million building roads in
China in 2005 and siphoned off more than $200 million supposed to compensate
farmers for land acquired for highway projects, the government said on Monday.
Of the 166.2 billion yuan ($21.49 billion) spent on China's top 34 road
schemes, about 2.16 billion yuan was misused or embezzled, and 3.25 billion yuan
was wasted, the National Audit Office said on its Web site (www.audit.gov.cn).
Of the 5.17 billion yuan earmarked for farmers whose land was appropriated in
14 provinces, about 1.64 billion yuan never reached its intended targets, it
"Illegal land seizures, embezzlement and continuously delaying compensation
for farmers violated farmers' interests," said the report, which was carried in
full on the central government's Web site (www.gov.cn).
The auditors also found "serious quality problems" in some highway bridges
and said that some project contractors had used inferior materials.
The official Xinhua news agency added the auditors would also look at the
books of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) -- China's top oil and gas
producer -- and the railway ministry.
"Auditors who moved into the CNPC in mid-March are examining the authenticity
of accounts and the duties of top management in making significant decisions,"
the report said, without elaborating.
Corrupt officials has arouese widespread anger in China, and
the government has warned that if graft is not checked it could threaten
China's chief auditor Li Jinhua found more than $4 billion of government
funds were squandered last year, state media said in January, despite repeated
nationwide campaigns to rein in corruption and waste.