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Goals set to improve auditing system
By Meng Xi (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-10 00:12

China's top auditor will focus more on government and institutional spending, increasing transparency, and strengthening internal control and management to improve the quality of auditing throughout the nation.

"These are major objectives I want to achieve within my tenure," said Li Jinhua, auditor-general of the National Audit Office (NAO), in an interview with the People's Daily.

Li Jinhua, widely known as the "iron-handed auditor-general," said the public will have access to audit information both through Internet and free printed bulletins. [newsphoto/file]
Li was re-elected as top auditing administrator in March 2003 for another five-year tenure.

Programme results auditing aims at checking whether government programmes and activities are meeting their stated goals and objectives. Li says his office will devote half of its efforts to the goal between now and 2007.

Currently, the auditing mainly focuses on whether money is used according to laws and regulations.

The NAO discovered a huge waste of funds during the construction of a dozen airports in 2002.

To promote transparency, Li has promised to make the audits available to the public in a more comprehensive way.

"All problems dug out in a specific audit will be released on the website of the National Audit Office. The public can also get printed audit bulletins free of charge," Li said.

By making public their reports, citizens can gain a better understanding of how money is being spent and scrutinize spending, said Ren Jianming, vice-director of the Anti-corruption and Governance Research Centre at Tsinghua University.

The NAO has made two proposals to the top legislature, which is now considering amending the Audit Law, which was adopted in 1994.

One proposal suggests the establishment of a committee that is comprised of professionals who would review the audits.

The other puts forth the idea of inviting another agency to examine the auditing office to ensure fairness.

The NAO, which Li calls the "watchdog of State property," has a constitutional duty to find out how the public's money is being spent.

Last month, Li reported to the national legislature that public funds had been misused by many ministries and commissions under the State Council last year.

The report stirred a national "audit storm," attracting the attention of the general public and Premier Wen Jiabao.

According to the report, 41 ministries and commissions appropriated as much as 1.42 billion yuan (US$171.56 million) of funding, which had been dedicated to special projects, for the construction of residential and office buildings for their own use.

In response, Premier Wen urged all of the departments under the State Council, governments at all levels and State-owned enterprises to learn from the serious problems that the auditing office had highlighted.

Wen said all of the people who had violated the laws and regulations had to be dealt with seriously.

Known as the "iron-handed auditor-general," Li says the NAO has received strong support from the central government and top leadership.

The office's jurisdiction will be expanded to include all central government departments, Communist Party of China (CPC) departments and State-funded institutions, the China Youth Daily reported Li as saying on Tuesday.

That means departments and institutions of the CPC Central Committee, the top legislature and the top political consultative body as well as the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate -- will all be audited.

Up until last year, the NAO only audited departments and institutions of the State Council, the cabinet.

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