China’s crackdown on corruption and focus on government austerity in the last one year has saved nearly $ 9 billion in public funds, official statistics have revealed.
Over 162600 “phantom staff” on the government payroll were sacked under the campaign to cut down government expenditure.
“Phantom staff” refer to those who were being paid government salaries without working for the government. (The statistics however did not reveal how long the scam was going on.)
Nearly 8200 members of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and officials were also punished for abusing their power and misusing public funds.
State media hailed the achievements as part of President Xi Jinping’s much-publicised “mass line” campaign under which Party members were expected to strengthen their links with citizens and clean-up their style of working.
According to state media, the campaign was a fight against “formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance”.
A large number of corruption cases involving high-ranking officials were eroding the trust that the general public had in the Party, the leadership feared; many such corruption cases were exposed online by whistle-blowers.
On Wednesday, Xi addressed a nationwide teleconference marking the end of the campaign but said it was the just the beginning of the fight against corruption and for strengthening CPC discipline.
Xi was quoted by official news agency Xinhua as saying that the campaign had “enhanced the Party's prestige and image among the populace; Party members and the people become more cohesive”.
State media released a flurry of statistics to hail the success of the campaign.
Reports said more than 100000 people had “voluntarily handed over illicit money or gift cards worth 520 million Yuan during the campaign”.
“More than 114,000 government vehicles have been canceled and over 96,000 officials have been refused overseas visits. In addition, 457 luxury entertainment clubs in historical buildings and parks have been shut down and are looking for other business model,” the report added.
The official statistics shared are probably an indicator of the wide ranging corruption challenge that Xi’s government faces.
It remains to be seen how long and how far Xi carries the campaign forward. Or whether the end of the “mass line” drive also means a gradual withdrawal of large-scale anti-corruption campaigns.