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Village officials to hand over their passports

Updated: 2013-12-30 07:13
By Zheng Caixiong in Guangzhou ( China Daily)

Guangzhou's anti-graft body said it will increase its management of village officials' overseas trips by requiring them to leave passports and other travel documents with higher authorities.

"All village officials will need permission from a superior authority before they can leave the mainland," said Mei Heqing, of the Guangzhou Party Commission for Discipline Inspection.

In the city's Tianhe district, authorities said village Party chiefs and village heads have been ordered to deposit their passports before Feb 28.

Several village officials from Tianhe were reported to have fled abroad recently when they were placed under investigation over alleged economic mismanagement.

Many villages in urban areas have seen an upturn in their financial situations, and village officials have had access to various resources, Mei said, adding: "We must introduce concrete and effective measures to prevent and fight corruption."

A total of 2,014 village Party chiefs and village heads in the 1,142 villages in Guangzhou, the Guangdong provincial capital, will have to abide by the new regulations.

The city is the first in the province to ask village officials to deposit travel documents. Guangdong borders the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.

Zheng Fenming, director of the Institute of Modernization Strategy at the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, said the move is a temporary solution.

"It is not a radical measure," Zheng said, as he urged government departments to introduce more systems to prevent and fight corruption among village chiefs.

"In addition to supervision from higher authorities and villagers, we also need to promote the democratic decision-making of village chiefs, the democratic election for village chiefs, and making operations more transparent," said Zheng.

He urged village heads to release annual financial statements, adding that government departments should try to prevent the centralization of power by village heads to help keep corruption in check.

"Some village Party chiefs and heads have too much power to examine and approve projects and other affairs that could easily lead to corruption," he warned.

In March, Lu Suigeng, Party chief of Xiancun village for three decades, fled to Australia after he was dismissed because of financial mismanagement, Guangzhou's New Express Daily reported.

Before they left the country, Lu and his wife had obtained Australian nationality and purchased several properties there.

Li Fangrong, Party chief of Liede village in Tianhe, resigned after he traveled abroad in the first half of the year.

He told the relevant departments he resigned because he wanted to see doctors abroad, according to media reports.

And the anti-graft body and other departments in Tianhe have launched an investigation to see whether Li has violated any laws or has mismanaged economic affairs.

(China Daily 12/30/2013 page5)