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NAO releases audit result on SARS fund
By Cao Desheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-02 21:37

China earmarked 14 billion yuan (US$1.7 billion) for SARS efforts by the end of July last year.

According to a report released by the National Audit Office (NAO) Tuesday, various levels of government put aside the money in a special fund to prevent and control SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).

Related organizations received social donations valued 4.152 billion yuan (US$ 500 million).

Between July and August of 2003, the NAO launched a nationwide audit of SARS budgets and distribution of social donations.

The report shows 12.761 billion yuan (US$1.54 billion) were spent on SARS prevention and control across the country by July 31.

Total social donations included 2.442 billion yuan (US$295 million) in cash and 1.71 billion yuan (US$ 210 million) in goods and material. Of the total, 3.166 billion yuan (US$383 million) had been distributed, said the report.

The audit covered 5,533 hospitals, 219 emergency rescue centers, 1,190 disease control centers, and 16,380 schools, neighbourhood communities, rural towns and township.

Thanks to rigid supervision, the report said, the overall use and management of government money and social donations was good and there were no major cases of embezzlement discovered.

Nevertheless, some minor irregularities were found during the audit in connection to donations and distribution. Those irregularities were straightened out after audit, said the report.

In recent years, China has beefed up financial supervision of government departments and state-owned enterprises.

The NAO has instituted a mechanism for periodical release of its auditing reports, which have drawn much attention from people and media alike in China.

The NAO decided to make public this year several reports, which used to go straight to the central government.

<subhead>Capital misused

<bodytxt>Among the reports released by the NAO was an in-depth audit of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China which links between the bank and several criminal activities.

ICBC was found to have been connected with 30 financial crimes, involving 6.9 billion yuan (US$834 million).

The report said the state-owned bank has some vulnerabilities in management, risk control and financial accounting.

Some branches of the bank were found to have violated rules and regulations in loaning, accepting bills and making discounts, according to the report.

The report was based on an audit carried out by NAO from February to October last year of ICBC's 21 branches across the country.

It reviewed their financial affairs in the year of 2002 and worked out the report.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Land and Resources and its subsidiaries were also found to have diverted 63.07 million yuan (US$7.6 million) for wages and bonus payments and made up administrative expenditures.

The NAO recovered some 14.82 billion yuan (US$1.8 billion) last year from auditing more than 130,000 public units throughout the country.

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