The head of the country’s top economic planning body has vowed to continue fighting corruption in the coming months following a series of scandals that hit the organization last year.
“Our resolution is firm (on fighting corruption) and we have taken concrete measures,” said Xu Shaoshi, the minister in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission.
Xu was speaking on March 5 at a news conference on the first day of the annual session of the National People’s Congress.
A number of officials working for the commission have been involved in corruption, and this has greatly harmed the credibility of the government and the image of the commission, Xu said.
He outlined the measures taken to combat the problem, and said they included arranging for more than 200 officials to visit prisons in Beijing as a deterrent.
“We analyzed the root causes of corruption, and inspected every link where there are hidden risks and eliminated them.”
He said the commission will make the procedures for inspecting and approving projects more public and transparent, and intensify the supervision of officials in key posts, such as those responsible for granting approval.
Eleven NDRC officials were placed under investigation on suspicion of corruption in the first 10 months of last year, according to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate. The officials were in charge of a number of departments, including those responsible for energy and power.
Wei Pengyuan, a deputy head of the commission’s coal department, was found to have had more than 200 million yuan ($32 million) in cash, a record amount, in his house when he was taken away by investigators, the procuratorate said.
Five senior official in the pricing section were placed under investigation, including Liu Zhenqiu, the department’s former director, and a retired head and two deputy directors.
Liu, who was detained in September, was in charge of pricing for a number of industries, including the drugs sector. In August, his predecessor, Cao Changqing, was detained for investigation.
Xu Jinhui, the anti-corruption chief at the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, said the fact that many of the commission’s departments have excessive power that is concentrated in the hands of a few officials is a major cause of corruption. Loopholes in its management and supervision structures also contribute to the problem, he said.
Some officials draw up macroeconomic policies and are responsible for approving projects, so they can have a major influence over the profits made by an enterprise. This leaves considerable room for corruption, some analysts said.
Xu Shaoshi said at a conference last year that the NDRC will introduce reforms, relinquish some of its power and intensify supervision to prevent corruption.
Commission spokesman Li Pumin said some pricing processes are being reformed and opened up, and added, “The commission will continue to give pricing approval rights to lower-level governments and other related departments.”