Internet users flooded the web with comments yesterday lauding a National Audit Office (NAO) investigation report, which revealed how eight provinces, an autonomous region and a municipality misused billions of yuan from an agricultural fund in 2007.
At the same time, netizens across the country called for stricter supervision of public funds.
The NAO on Wednesday made public its "spot check report", revealing that Henan, Gansu, Shanxi, Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Hunan, Fujian and Shaanxi provinces, the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and Chongqing municipality misused 2.69 billion yuan ($394 million) from an agriculture fund two years ago. More than 58 million yuan of the fund was spent on constructing houses and purchasing cars, the report said.
"The money was taken out of a 350-billion-yuan special fund designated to accelerate agricultural development," NAO disclosed.
About 4.6 billion yuan was "mismanaged" and nearly 6.6 billion yuan failed to find its way into investment projects, it said.
"Investment in agricultural infrastructure was inadequate, which is why north China suffered from a sustaining drought earlier this year," the report said.
From 2003 to 2007, Chongqing municipality and eight provinces invested 131 million yuan to establish a flood and drought monitoring system, accounting for "only 4 percent of the total fund meant for flood and drought prevention".
By March 2008, the municipality and provinces had established only "1,434 hydrological stations, less than 50 percent of the stations which should have been set up in line with the requirements of the Ministry of Water Resources, while 111 districts and counties, prone to floods, had not set up any stations", the report said.
Even as netizens hailed NAO's efforts to expose corruption, they demanded that the names of the officials responsible for misusing the funds be made public too.
"How about a large-scale check nationwide on how public funds are used or misused?" suggested an unnamed netizen.
Even though NAO has exposed several cases of corruption in recent years it has never revealed the names of officials behind the scams.
"If no specific official is named or punished, others will not be scared about misusing public money," a netizen commented.
"To most officials, the word 'taxpayer' means little or nothing and they use taxpayers' money like it was their own," another Internet user said.
Source: China Daily