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China's hefty stimulus plan draws concerns over fund use, corruption
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08:18, March 13, 2009

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Chinese people are showing concerns over possible fund misuse, corruption and the effect of macroeconomic control while the government's massive economy stimulus package is expected to be endorsed by lawmakers Friday morning.

Premier Wen Jiabao unveiled last week an ambitious plan to shore up economic growth in face of "unprecedented difficulties and challenges," calling for confidence to combat the financial crisis.

The package included huge government investment, tax reform, industrial restructuring, scientific innovation, social welfare and promoting employment.

It highlighted a 4-trillion-yuan (585.5 billion U.S. dollars) two-year investment package, for which the central government has pledged 1.18 trillion yuan.

The stimulus plan has boosted confidence as the global financial crisis is taking its toll on the country's economy, but people also have worries.

Li Zhaoxin, a citizen in Zhengzhou, capital of central Henan Province, has been closely following the legislative session in Beijing by watching television news and special reports.

"A series of plans that will promote people's well-being were unveiled during the sessions. I'm wondering how we can be sure local governments will carry out the plans properly and ensure the funds be used where they are most needed," Li said.

A netizen called Hanzhang wrote in a blog at Xinhuanet.com: "I hope the 4-trillion-yuan package won't generate more corruptive kingpins."

"What people hate most is that local governments usually sing a different tune from central policies during implementation," said Li Liancheng, a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC) and Communist Party committee chief of Xixinzhuang village, Puyang County of Henan.

"Central government policies could sometimes be used by some at grassroots to seek personal gains. We've learnt grave lessons from and paid dearly for similar cases," he said.

There are also local officials who would make bold to go against central government policies, pouring money into energy-intensive, heavily polluting and repetitive projects to boost local economic growth and tax revenue.

Political advisors and lawmakers said strict management, supervision and greater transparency should be exercized to avoid repetitive construction, environmental damage, redundant production capacities, jerry-built projects and corruption.

Zhou Guangquan, an NPC deputy and deputy head of the law school of Beijing-based Qinghua University, proposed the government and the public jointly supervise the use of the 4 trillion yuan to create a "zero tolerance" environment on misuse.

"'Zero tolerance' aims to give penalty on anyone or any unit for illegal fund use so as to ensure the funds are put to best use," Zhou said.

Premier Wen vowed last week to lawmakers the government would strive to make sure "oversight takes place wherever administrative power is exercised and that government funds will be audited wherever they are used."

Responding to the request of the public for administrative transparency, China's top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), has promised to gradually publish detailed expenditures of the stimulus package on its website and accept public enquiry.

Yan Yiming, a Shanghai lawyer specializing in securities, requested earlier this year that the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the NDRC make public the detailed expenditure of the hefty stimulus package. If unsatisfied, the lawyer said he would sue the government agencies.

Ma Wen, minister of supervision and deputy secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China (CPC), also promised on the sidelines of the legislative session to step up scrutiny on the funds and give more severe penalties to violators.

Source:Xinhua



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