$6 Billion in Sichuan Quake Restoration Funds Misused

June 29, 2010 11:33 pm Last Updated: June 29, 2010 11:36 pm

About US$6 billion (40.8 billion Chinese yuan) of funding intended for relief operations following the devastating Wenchuan earthquake of 2008 in southwest China's Sichuan Province was held up or misused through the end of 2009, according to the June 23 report from China's National Audit Office (NAO).

Over US$856.8 million (5.8 billion yuan) had been misused for programs other than reconstruction projects, and some of the money had been inappropriately used to repay local government loans, the report said.

Some local officials also obtained extra funds by falsifying their regional population count, which resulted in a loss of about US$35.5 million (241 million yuan), NAO found.

An absence of a unified system to manage issues following the distribution of the money into the quake-affected zone led to a holdup of about US$763 million (5.2 billion yuan) at eight departments within the central government and US$4.4 billion (29.9 billion yuan) at various local authoritative levels, according to the report.

The findings were presented to the 15th session of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress by Liu Jiayi, head of NAO.

The NAO had organized more than 8,000 auditors to review about 13,000 rebuilding programs, of which 60 percent were centrally funded and 40 percent were financed by the local authorities.

A total of 274 projects, or 24 percent of the projects sampled in the audit, were found to deviate from the plan, failing to deliver expected results.

According to the Southcn.com, a total of US$58.9 billion (400.5 billion yuan) had been raised for the reconstruction efforts.

Some earthquake survivors expressed their anger about the mismanagement of the relief funds on the Internet blogs and message boards.

“It's easy to tell where the money went if you look at the village leaders' houses. They suddenly became rich over the past two years. Some of them sounded like they are richer than millionaires! The reconstruction fund is being wasted by them,” wrote one blogger.

“Even though nobody believed the fund would be properly and effectively used to reconstruct the affected area, no one could imagine the misused amount would be as large as $856 million,” posted another netizen.

“We don't know where the money was used. … I don't know where the money went. No one is monitoring,” read another entry.

Read the original article in Chinese.