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Controversial Hunan fine policy may be scrapped

By Zheng Jinran, Feng Zhiwei (China Daily)

09:05, August 22, 2012

Officials in a city in Hunan province said they may scrap a controversial policy that allows street inspectors to get an 80 percent commission on every fine they issue.

The change of heart by authorities in Shaoyang comes after a string of complaints by residents and experts.

"We introduced the policy to improve the urban environment, and it has been successful," said Luo Limin, the city's deputy director of publicity. "However, we have received complaints about the low quality of some inspectors."

He said the measures could be canceled or modified, but added that no final decision has been made yet.

On Aug 1, Shaoyang appointed about 1,000 residents as street inspectors. The civil inspectors assist urban management officers, commonly known as chengguan.

Usually, the inspectors in other cities do not have the authority to issue fines and are simply required to report offenses to the chengguan or to the police. But according to a statement by Shaoyang's urban management office, the city's inspectors cannot only issue on-the-spot penalties, but after the money is collected, they get 80 percent of the fines.

An official in Shaoyang's legislative affairs office, who gave his name only as Deng, on Tuesday declined to discuss the policy in detail.

However, he said that it's inappropriate for civil inspectors to give tickets, and that no agreements between his office and the chengguan were made to change that.

A resident surnamed Zhang said that when his car stopped at the crossing for a green pedestrian light on Aug 16, it crossed over the line a little bit.

"Four inspectors came to my car immediately and gave me a fine of 10 yuan ($1.60)," Zhang said, adding that they didn't wear uniforms, and only had red armbands.

Liu Li, another resident, said that most of the civil inspectors are 40 to 60 years old, and asked: "Have they received any training? I doubt that they can make the right decisions, especially when they earn more if they catch more people doing something wrong, like illegal parking or spitting on the street."

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