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Confiscated goods 'given to the poor' in Hunan
By Cui Jia (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-05-06 09:03

Ever wondered what officials do with the stuff they confiscate from illegal street vendors? Authorities in Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan, yesterday cleared certain "misconceptions".

"Confiscated goods are donated to low-income families and charities. We don't take them home," Huang Wei, the head administrator of the city management supervision department of Changsha's Furong district, told China Daily yesterday.

"A majority of goods we seized from the streets are agricultural products, like apples and oranges, which cannot be kept for too long," Huang said.

He added that his department had been sharing information about the use of confiscated goods with the public for a while.

The receipts of the seized items, along with the names of the beneficiaries, are posted on a notice board outside the department's office for anyone to see.

It is one of the first moves of its kind in the country.

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And do you think no one's interested in knowing? "Every day a huge number of people - the general public as well as raided street vendors - come to see the notice," Huang said.

The authorities have given away more than 1,000 kg of seized agricultural products this year, he said.

"In a recent survey, 90 percent of our residents had no idea how the seized fruits and vegetables were utilized. What worried us more was how 45 percent of those polled thought the city management officers took the confiscated items home, which is strictly prohibited," Huang said.

"That's why we decided to make the information public. People have welcomed the move."

Huang also pointed out the department only gives away perishable agricultural products. "Any other confiscated products are auctioned, as stipulated by existing regulations."

Chen Liming, a 50-something resident of Changsha, who finds it hard to make ends meet, said he receives a fare amount of fruit and vegetables from Huang's department every month.

"I am required to sign a receipt of the items they give me, after which the receipt is put on the notice board. It's quite transparent," Chen said.

Huang said helping the poor was one thing, "what's more important is that we've regained public trust, which is essential for our city management officers".