Chinese auditors uncover problems in Yangtze River economic belt
Chinese auditors have discovered problems in the implementation of environmental protection policies and the use of funds involving the Yangtze River economic belt over the past two years, an audit report showed on Tuesday.
The problems were found when the National Audit Office conducted an audit of 11 provinces and municipalities in the economic belt between December 2017 and March 2018, said the report.
"Governments at all levels have increased spending on ecological and environmental protection," the report read. The combined fiscal spending related to the efforts reached 251.82 billion yuan (about US$39.97 billion) in 2016 and 2017.
Between December 2013 and January 2018, however, 25.8 million yuan of the specially designated funds were misused for non-environmental protection purposes, such as making up for the insufficient payroll of the administrative staff, the office said.
Also, 197 projects for pollution control and rehabilitation of the ecology in 10 provinces were not started or completed as scheduled, while 19 projects in five provinces failed to achieve the objectives upon completion as designed.
The office also found excessive development in the economic belt. For example, there were 24,100 small hydropower stations in 10 provinces at the end of last year. As a result, 333 rivers dried up.
The NAO has ordered local authorities to rectify the problems detected in the audit and inform the public about the result of the rectification. It would conduct follow-up inspections, according to the report.