|Three Gorges graft targeted|
|http://www.sina.com.cn 2005/03/30 19:02 Shanghai Daily|
CHINA will beef up supervision and audits of funds used in the construction of the gigantic Three Gorges Project and the related relocation of people over the next four years to weed out corruption, an official said in Beijing yesterday.
The Three Gorges Construction Committee under the State Council, or the central government, will improve its anti-corruption mechanism while stepping up cooperation with the National Audit Office and the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China to "ensure every cent for the project is properly used," said Xia Kailiang, deputy director-general of the committee's supervision office.
The Three Gorges Project, the world's biggest hydroelectric scheme, began in 1993. And interest payments and inflation are expected to push the project's total cost to 180 billion yuan (US$22 billion) by its completion in 2009. Nearly half of the investment goes to the relocation of affected people, said Xia.
In comparison to the amount of invested capital and the progress of the project over the past 11 years, investment control has been kept within the initial budget estimation, with a small surplus, Xia acknowledged.
He said, "The capital management on dam construction is especially strict and effective. We have not found any case of embezzling public funds."
China raised the money for the huge dam with a special state-collected construction fund, which covered approximately 40 percent of the total expense, said Xia.
The remaining shortfall comes from loans of the State Development Bank, overseas export credits, commercial loans and bonds issues.
By the end of 2004, the amount of investment put in the dam construction came to 51.9 billion yuan, while that used for residents' displacement reached 43 billion yuan, both exceeding 80 percent of the budget, according to the committee.
Despite the achievement, Xia also noted that corruption did happen, especially in the management of relocation funds, but insisted "corruption and funds embezzlement has been minimal."
About 1.13 million people living along the Yangtze River, including 405,000 farmers, will be resettled from the areas due to be inundated by the reservoir. Of these people, 166,000 are expected to be relocated to 11 more developed provinces and municipalities, as far away as Shanghai or Guangdong Province.
To date, said Xia, about 965,500 people have been relocated, accounting for over 85 percent of the planned migrant population.
By the end of 2003, Xia's office had uncovered 310 cases on resettlement fund management with 349 suspects and 58.67 million yuan involved.
An official in charge of relocation work in southwestern Chongqing Municipality was executed last year after being convicted of extorting 12 million yuan in relocation funds, the largest sum ever found, said Xia.
"The amount of misused funds make up for 0.136 percent of the resettlement budget, of which, 43 million yuan had been recovered," he said.
The government was paying greater attention to the resettlement than to the dam itself, "as people are more important," said Xia.
The Three Gorges Dam started generating power in 2004. When finished in 2009, the dam will have 26 turbines - the largest in the world - pumping out 18,200 megawatts of electric power, equal to about 10 big coal-fired power stations using 50 million tons of coal a year.