Opinion / From the Press

Public service should serve the public

( Updated: 2013-01-04 20:29

The daughter of a former official in the housing administration in Zhengzhou in Central China's Henan province boasted of having 11 houses and two identity cards. The other three members of her family all have two identities and a number of houses, says an article in 21st Century Business Herald. Excerpts:

Many of the houses owned by powerful families are government-subsidized, and the daughter's mother is suspected of reselling 308 such homes for profit.

This incident shows the administration of government-subsidized houses — an important public service — is seriously lacking in supervision and transparency. Corruption is not only extremely profitable, given the high price of housing, but also ruining the public service system.

China started building public housing on a large scale in 2010. But a high vacancy rate for such housing exists alongside a large number of people waiting for homes, because many people on low incomes in the city are migrant workers without local urban residence permits and thus the qualifications to apply for public housing.

The price difference between public and commercial housing indicates that public housing administration departments are holding large amounts of profitable assets. This price gap can be turned into profit by, and for, the people in charge of these homes if they abuse their powers.

The authorities should hand distribution rights to public housing to those departments which are also responsible for building the homes.

The government can also consider outsourcing the management and distribution of public housing, as well as other public services, to social organizations and enterprises. Introducing market competition will improve transparency and efficiency of the public service system.

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