Strengthen supervision of government procurement

Updated: 2014-01-16 19:40


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Open procedures are an important guarantee to enhance honest procurement, says an article in the 21st Century Business Herald. Excerpts:

The National Audit Office reported recently that 28 out of 58 central government departments found problems with their procurements valued at 517 million yuan ($85 million).

Government procurement has hit a value of 842.2 billion yuan, representing average annual growth of 23.5 percent.

Procurement has sometimes been seen as a hotbed of corruption. It is easy for the officials to take advantage of loopholes to seek illegal profits.

Although Premier Li Keqiang has stressed the importance of auditing many times, and the audit authorities have taken action to strengthen supervision, government spending can still, sometimes, be a cash cow for some officials.

Auditing, by definition, takes place after the fact.

There must be an effective system to ensure pre-spending supervision is boosted.

In 2003, the central government issued detailed rules to regulate government procurement. The new rules have made a difference. But the rules, which are implemented by the government departments themselves, are far from enough to tackle the current problems. In some places, the rules have even become a protective umbrella for corrupt officials.

There must be third-party supervision from the audit and judicial authorities. The boundaries of government power must not be defined by the government itself, but by the law and the people.

The government must make its spending more transparent to society. The People’s Congresses should fulfill their responsibilities as representatives of the people to inspect the making and implementation of government budgets.

There should also be a functional accountability system to punish officials for squandering money or breaking relevant rules in government procurement.