Misspent disaster relief funding exposed

2023-08-11 10:48:40China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Billions of yuan in disaster relief funding for rebuilding areas in Henan province hit by catastrophic flooding in 2021 have been misappropriated or inefficiently utilized, according to a governmental audit.

Last month marked the two-year anniversary of the once-in-a-century deluge that inundated the subway system in the provincial capital Zhengzhou and many rural parts of the province, triggering extensive recovery efforts.

More than 450 millimeters of rain fell in the city over three days starting on July 18, 2021, three times the historical average for the entire month, causing 120 billion yuan (16.66 billion) in direct economic losses. More than 14 million people were affected, with 398 people killed or missing.

In a report on July 28, the Henan Provincial Audit Department said 405 million yuan ($56 million) in post-disaster reconstruction funding earmarked for nine hard-hit counties and a company owned by the provincial government did not conform to rules relating to relief spending.

Two government-controlled fund-raising platforms were found to have intercepted and misused about 30 million yuan originally planned for disaster-related projects, the report said.

Auditors found that 162 relief projects, accounting for 3.12 billion yuan, were behind schedule. Huangchuan and three other cities falsely reported the progress on projects worth 1.28 billion yuan, and some projects reported by localities, did not even exist.

Hundreds of projects were also found to have shunned quality testing or construction was found to be substandard.

Three projects not related to disaster relief were found to have received money earmarked for relief-only investments, it added.

The audit department said the report was based on two years of "all-reaching and penetrating" investigations targeting the 44 worst affected counties.

An unnamed official with the audit department told China National Radio that the places named in the report were only a few examples of the problematic handling of disasterrelief funding, and that the complete results of the audit will be released before late November.


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