GUANGZHOU:Audits cut millions from project costs

Byzjx

Updated Fri, 30 Jul 2004 00:00:00 GMT

GUANGZHOU: The cost of eight key infrastructure projects in Guangdong Province was cut by more than 265 million yuan (US$32 million) after audits last year.

In his annual report to the Guangdong Provincial People's Congress, Zeng Shouxi, director-general of the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Auditing, said more than 13 billion yuan (US$1.57 billion) had been budgeted for the projects, but that number was overestimated.

Some government officials, contractors and builders only stressed the importance and urgency of their projects but overlooked the designs and assessment before construction began, Zeng said on Wednesday.

The eight projects include six expressways and two power stations, Zeng told local People's Congress deputies.

More than 27 million yuan (US$3.26 million) worth of construction funds for the eight projects have been diverted to other purposes.

Zeng's bureau inspected a total of 5,321 projects in the previous year and found more than 17.4 billion yuan (US$2.1 billion) worth of public funds had been illegally misappropriated, a number at least 8 per cent higher than in 2002.

A large sum of the public funds was used to purchase luxury cars, distribute bonuses and visit restaurants and entertainment venues.

A total of 18 prefecture-level Party and government officials were investigated in connection with the misuse of public funds, bribery and financial corruption in Guangdong last year.

"Those who are guilty and negligent of their duties will be transferred to procuratorate departments for prosecution," Zeng added.

Last year, a total 2,305 persons were audited in the province.

In addition to the prefecture-level officials, another 204 were also investigated .

Of them, 182 have been removed from their posts.

Zeng said his bureau urged the Guangdong provincial government to take misappropriation of public funds very seriously and plug the holes.

Zeng promised to expand audits on the province's construction projects, particularly the big infrastructure projects which involve large sums of money.

Guangdong Province has decided to invest large sums to construct many key industrial and infrastructure projects this year.

These projects include airports, expressways, railways and subways.