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Punish misuse of gov't money

China Daily

Responsible officials should be punished to prevent the misuse of public money, says an article in Market News. An excerpt follows:

The audit bureau of Sichuan Province has publicized an audit on local departments' money use. The 14 departments involved, including the province's cultural bureau, judicial bureau and immigration office, all had problems with money embezzlement and the irregular disposal of State assets.

The audit storm has blown for several years in China but obviously it has not frightened many. The misuse of money does not seem to be slowing down. Almost all departments have such problems. That the audit office of Sichuan can publicize this result represents progress. Nevertheless, the result is really worrying.

It is worrisome to China's public financial operation that financial misappropriation has become such a common phenomenon. This problem is dreadful because, like a disease, it is infectious. Many are of the opinion that they will not be punished because everyone breaks the law. And they may have a point.

The auditors can discover inappropriate use of public funds. But when this involves head officials, such problems cannot be easily solved. Gradually other departments and organizations follow suit and embezzle public money. The money is used to construct office buildings and buy cars. They may eventually get exposed but the overall situation never seems to improve, which greatly affects the government's authority and credibility.

The common phenomenon of misuse of public money is a breach of laws and regulations. The root problem is that those exposed through auditing have not been strictly punished.

The government should enhance auditing and at the same time increase punishments. The misuse of public money often occurs with the head officials' consent.

The key to strengthening punishment according to law is to investigate the head officials' responsibilities and give them due punishment. That is the only way to improve the credibility of the audit office and, ultimately, protect the government's authority.

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