A new audit in China has revealed that family planning officials illegally levied 1.6 billion yuan ($260 million) in fines as part of the country’s one-child policy.
The policy covers 63 percent of China, and people who do not comply have to pay a “social compensation fee,” which family planning departments collect and pass onto local authorities to pay for resources and public services used by each extra child.
The National Audit Office investigated 45 counties in nine provinces from 2009 to 2012. It found that these fines were instead being spent by family planning departments on items such as bonuses and receptions.
The probe showed several other problems with the system, such as inaccurate reports on how many extra children couples had, and officials demanding excessive fines.
A dozen lawyers recently wrote an open letter to the office to find out whether these accounts had been audited. According to activists, the actual amount of illegal fines is more than 10 times the reported figure.