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Granary embezzlers

China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-19 07:58

It is beyond imagination more than 100 officials and staff are under investigation for allegedly embezzling public money after a probe into the Henan branch of the China Grain Reserve Corporation.

The probe was launched after the branch's head fled to the United States last year with money he'd embezzled.

The Henan branch of the grain reserve reported to the higher authorities that they had bought a certain amount of fresh grain to keep in reserve and sold the grain they had in storage. They then received subsidies from the State coffers. However, they neither bought nor sold any grain, and just pocketed the subsidies themselves. It was reported that the total amount of grain they handled was 1.4 billion kilograms, and the money they pocketed was more than 700 million yuan ($113.5 million).

Even more important than meting out to these bad apples the punishments they deserve is finding out how such a large number of people could cheat the State out of so much public money for so many years without being discovered.

There seems to be no supervision at all over what goes on in the country's granaries. The China Grain Reserve Corporation needs to make clear if all its branches are managed in the same way as its Henan branch.

A thorough investigation needs to be conducted to determine if similar illegal practices are taking place in any of its other branches.

This is not just a case of an abuse of power. It is a matter of food security.

In addition to the loss of public money, the practice in the China Grain Reserve's Henan branch will likely result in grain being stored for too long, which will lead to it going bad, or not enough grain being held in reserve, which would mean both the central and local governments would not have enough grain in case of famine or other natural disaster.

It is not unusual for the granary system of such a large country as China to have some bad apples among its staff. But it would indeed be unusual to discover that a provincial granary alone had harbored such a large number of embezzlers.

This needs to be addressed as quickly as possible.

(China Daily 08/19/2013 page8)

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