Welfare home cheats

Updated: 2011-08-15 08:04

(China Daily)

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That a check on welfare housing in Beijing has disqualified 5,300 families in a year points not just to the achievement of the local government in cracking down on cheats, but also the prevalence of fraud in applications for such government-subsidized homes.

The fact that 300 families already had the keys to such homes explains why many fraudulent applicants apply for a welfare house by providing untrue personal information. Of the 240,000 families that applied for welfare homes, about 10 percent were found to be ineligible when sub-district committees or township governments checked their applications.

These unqualified applicants are trying to grab a share of the welfare that some rely on to improve their living conditions. Such behavior poses a challenge to the fair and just distribution of welfare homes.

Despite the government's vow that anyone who receives a welfare home through cheating will be disqualified and punished, there are still repeated reports about residents living in welfare homes who drive luxury cars or rent the homes out for profit.

The 2010 audit report approved by the National People's Congress reveals that 4,470 low-rent houses out of 29,000 constructed in 16 cities were sold or used for other purposes. Another 4,247 units were given to unqualified families.

Authorities from the Beijing municipal commission of housing and construction promised that applicants' qualifications would be subject to three verification stages and that applicants would be investigated if necessary. Also the names of the approved applicants are published for supervision by the general public.

All these are indeed necessary but they are far from enough. Severe punishments such as heavy fines need to be imposed on those cheats who employ every conceivable means to acquire welfare homes and then make profits from them.

In addition, any corruption involved in the distribution of welfare housing must be dealt with in a serious manner and the officials involved punished in accordance with the law.

Welfare housing, such as low-rent homes and affordable houses, are meant to redistribute social wealth in favor of the disadvantaged.

In a broader sense, it is a way of pushing social justice and fairness. Social harmony and stability will be promoted by improving the living conditions of the poor. It is the way of realizing what reform architect Deng Xiaoping called "common prosperity."

What these cheats are doing is not just getting extra benefits they are not entitled to. They are challenging the principle of justice and fairness and undermining social stability and harmony. It is no small matter. Much importance needs to be attached to its settlement.

(China Daily 08/15/2011 page8)