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Auditor: Earthquake funds spent properly
By Huang Zhiling (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-09-15 07:24

Despite a few irregularities, auditors found no major violations in reconstruction projects following last year's Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan.

With a planned investment of nearly 34 billion yuan ($5 billion), the 76 projects are distributed across 28 counties and districts in Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces, which were hit hard by the 8.0-magnitude earthquake on May 12, 2008.

According to the National Audit Office (NAO), more than 4,500 auditors have been tracking reconstruction projects in the three provinces since January.

Projects include the reconstruction of rural houses, schools, transportation, power and power grids, irrigation and telecommunications projects. By the end of May 2009, 14 projects had been finished and 62 were under construction, the NAO announced Monday.

The three provinces have tried hard to ensure speedy reconstruction, NAO officials said.

By the end of May 2009, 70 percent of the nine rural housing reconstruction projects had been completed, the Dujiangyan-Wenchuan expressway in Sichuan had resumed operation and three units in the Yingxiuwan power station in Sichuan had resumed power generation.

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Although no major legal breaches were found in the use of reconstruction funds, the NAO did find some problems.

For example, Anxian county in Sichuan inflated its losses from the quake when planning dike construction in its new county seat.

As a result, central finance allocated an additional 15.5 million yuan to the project. After auditing, Anxian refunded the money.

Wenchuan county, the epicenter of the quake, applied for nearly 2.6 million yuan for the repair and reinforcement of six residential buildings, but the real cost was just more than 900,000 yuan.

In addition, the funds of five projects surpassing 26 million yuan have been used for other purposes.

The town of Chengguan in Gansu province lent 8.5 million yuan in rural house reconstruction funds to its district's development and reform committee, which used the money for the resettlement of poor people on a trial basis.

The money was refunded after auditing, the NAO said.