Opinion / Editorials

Inactive officials a drain on the national economy

(China Daily) Updated: 2015-09-30 08:04

Inactive officials a drain on the national economy

People read books before a shelf filled with Party education material in Ningbo city, East China's Zhejiang province, photo undated. [Photo/CFP]

Disciplinary punishments have been meted out to about 300 government officials for being lazy and inactive. Officials' idleness and inaction have stagnated investment, delayed development projects, slowed land development and prevented the revamping of shantytowns.

The problem the government faces is obviously not lack of money but the unwillingness of some local governments and their officials to spend the money properly. In the past, local leaders tried every means possible to get approvals from the central authorities for development projects or obtain projects invested in by the central government.

In August, 59 officials from seven provinces were punished for not actively performing their duties. A month later, 249 more officials from 24 provinces have been penalized for the same reason.

So why have local officials developed an aversion to development projects, which they used to see as performance enhancers that increased their chances of promotion? Without addressing the key issue of why they have lost interest in what used to be their favorite pursuit, disciplinary penalties such as a warning or disciplinary probation for a certain period will hardly stimulate their enthusiasm for putting funds to good use, something that is badly needed for economic growth.

For officials, it is obvious that they will not be suspected of abusing their power for personal gains if they abstain from engaging in economic activities. So they have adopted ways to idle away their time in office or are simply incapable.

But their inaction is detrimental to the country's economic development and social management. In one case, 150 million yuan ($23.58 million) earmarked by the central government for the treatment of soil contaminated by heavy metals kept lying with the financial departments of 29 cities and counties. And this is the story of just one province.

Given that investment in development projects is still vital to China's economic growth, officials' reluctance to use the funds on the projects under their control will become an accumulative drag on the country's economy. And delay in projects closely related to people's livelihood, such as revamping of shantytowns, could dent the credibility of the Party and the government.

There is no reason for officials who get paid from public funds but do not fulfill their duties to be let off with just petty disciplinary punishments.

Most Viewed Today's Top News
Media rekindle keenness in UK's China business