Thu, Jun 23, 2011 - Page 5 News List

No timetable for assets disclosure: PRC

CORRUPTION:An anti-graft official said Beijing was still working on an ‘effective’ system for officials to detail local and overseas property and investment activities

Reuters, BEIJING

China has no timetable to implement a vaunted and much-publicized scheme to get senior officials to disclose their assets, as there is still no proper system to do so, a top anti-graft official said yesterday.

China’s stability obsessed rulers have repeatedly expressed fear that official malfeasance is undermining its authority and sparking violent protests against corrupt officials.

Some spectacular corruption cases, including the sacking of Shanghai’s Communist Party boss in 2007 and the railways minister earlier this year, have underscored the seriousness of the problem, as the booming economy gives officials opportunity to use their power for private gain.

Beijing has, over the past few years, periodically issued edicts requiring officials to submit reports detailing their property and investment activity, including the overseas business dealings of spouses and children.

Wu Yuliang (吳玉良), deputy head of the party’s main anti-graft body, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said it had proven much more complex than anticipated to get the scheme going.

“Making assets public is an effective system that many countries have adopted to fight corruption. We are also of a positive view about this,” he told a news conference.

“For any good system to be feasible we should have ... a sound environment. When conditions are ripe, success will come,” Wu added.

However, there was what he termed a lack of “good faith in society” and no foolproof way of collating and verifying what assets may be reported.

“If these are not in place, people will not believe in the statistics, and relevant agencies also cannot track the figures. If that’s the case, then the reporting of assets cannot play its due role,” Wu said.

“We are pressing ahead with this work in a prudent and active manner,” he added. “Things should take their natural course.”

China ranked 78th out of 178 nations and regions counted in Transparency International’s survey last year of perceived corruption, on par with Greece and Thailand and a better ranking than India’s, but far behind most developed countries.

Fed up with corruption, some avid Internet users are taking a leaf from India’s anti-graft drama by opening Web sites so people can confess to buying off officials.

While some of these Web sites appear to have since been closed down, others are still operating.

They did not specify who is running them and whether they have official approval. In the past, some local governments have tried to use the Internet to encourage citizens and officials to confess to corruption.

When asked about these new sites, Wu said he thought the Internet was a good way for ordinary people to expose corruption.

However, he implied the government was keeping a close watch and would not hesitate to put a stop to the phenomenon if it felt it was necessary.

“Our country has already issued many relevant regulations for the Internet’s management. Those operated in accordance with the rules must be conscientiously run well. Those not run in accordance with the rules must be ‘standardized,’” he said.

“We must guide Internet users to rationally and legally express their demands, and ensure the reliability and factuality of tips sent on the Internet,” Wu said.

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