Disclosing officials' assets

Updated: 2012-12-13 08:23

(China Daily)

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In a move widely anticipated to help more effectively fight corruption, South China's Guangdong province has decided to launch a pilot program in Hengqin New Area of Zhuhai and Shixing county of Shaoguan, requiring Party and government officials to report and disclose their assets.

According to the provincial disciplinary authorities, the program will be completed before 2014 and then be gradually extended to the rest of the province.

Guangdong's decision came as the Communist Party of China is displaying greater determination and tightened efforts to fight graft since the formation of its new leadership at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in mid-November and thus has received extensive attention. That several local officials have been investigated and convicted of corruption and bribery after Internet exposures of their immense assets highlights the urgency and necessity for promoting the disclosure of officials' assets, a move that can facilitate anti-graft efforts from the roots.

At a meeting on Nov 30 chaired by Wang Qishan, the newly elected head of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party's top anti-corruption watchdog, many participating experts and scholars proposed China should put in place a system for the disclosure and reporting of officials' assets as soon as possible to curb the rampancy of corruption. In particular, making public officials' real estate holdings will offer convenient clues to discern the existence of corruption.

As early as 1987, the officials-targeting assets reporting system was put forward for the first time in China. It was listed in 1994 on the legislation agenda, but later failed to enter the legislative procedure. Yet within the Party, the promulgation of a regulation in 2006 and an amendment in 2010 requiring Party officials to report relevant personal affairs, including their property, investments and the employment of their spouses and children.

In the context of the authorities' accelerated efforts to fight corruption, Guangdong's move has ignited hopes for its forcible and consistent enforcement instead of being another "loud thunder but small raindrops" campaign. To facilitate its smooth implementation, a sound credit, information disclosure and sharing, and real-name registration system should be introduced in banking, housing and other relevant sectors.